Like Samson gaining power from his hair, the long waving locks and strong right arm of Oakland Athletics Pitcher A.J. Griffin should again be seen on the mound starting games for the A’s this coming 2014 season. Griffin throws a variety of pitches with a 90 MPH four-seam fastball, a curve, a cut-seam fastball, and a change-up.
A 13th-round draft pick by the A’s in 2010, Griffin was 7-1 in a partial 2012 (he made his major league debut against the Giants that June) with a 3.06 ERA in 15 starts.
Last year was his first full season in the majors, going 14-10 putting up a 3.82 ERA with 171 K’s in 32 starts. Unfortunately for the A’s, he gave up the most homeruns by any major league pitcher – surrendering 36 long-balls.
Despite throwing a hefty 200 innings last season, the 6-foot-5 rightie was pulled from the A’s rotation with tendinitis in his right elbow when the A’s entered the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers.
This spring Griffin has reported no discomfort in his arm since reporting to camp Feb. 15. With Griffin healthy and Bartolo Colon gone, the A’s projected starting rotation appears young and solid in the pitching-friendly Coliseum. The 26-year-old Griffin joins Jarrod Parker, 25, Dan Straily, also 25, Sonny Gray, 24 and the newly acquired old man of the group, southpaw Scott Kazmir, 30.
Lefthander Tommy Milone, 26, – likely to be in the bullpen for 2014 – is also capable to step into the rotation if needed some point down the season. Milone started 26 games as part of the A’s rotation in 2013. Last season the A’s used only seven starters leading their way to repeat as AL West Champions.
Now having some more experience on the mound and familiarization with league hitters, Griffin can only get better and remain dominant in the starting rotation. After a 96-win season, expectations are high that the A’s will three-peat as division champs. Griffin and the rest of the starting rotation will play a big part in that prospect and for Griffin himself, it would be great to see him healthy for the post season this year.