The A’s took a big hit when two of their five starting pitchers went down to injury. When the team announced Jarrod Parker was going to have Tommy John surgery and miss the entire season and A.J. Griffin would miss a month with elbow problems A’s fans began to ponder the downside of it all. However, the emergence of reliever turned starter Jesse Chavez has eased the blow. The other starter filling in in the rotation, Tommy Milone, has also been a pleasant surprise despite numbers saying otherwise.
With that being said, Griffin is supposed to begin throwing again in the near future. When he returns the likely two candidates to be up for replacement will be Chavez or Milone.
With Chavez pitching so well it will obviously be hard for Milone to overtake him for the final rotation spot. The one factor that is in Milone’s favor is the fact that the bullpen has been shaky thus far this season and Chavez would be a nice fit to steady the ship and fill in the seemingly vacant long reliever role.
Even though it is more than likely Milone will be the odd man out when Griffin returns in mid May, tonight’s start against the Texas Rangers will be a huge deciding factor for Manager Bob Melvin.
Milone has pitched well so far this season even though he does not have a win and his ERA is over 4. He has struck out eight in 11 innings giving up 15 hits and 5 earned runs with 2 walks and 2 HBP’s. While 15 hits is a lot in only 11 innings, remember that the A’s defense has been mediocre at best to start the season. With a 4/1 strikeout to walk ratio Milone has done a good job of limiting base runners he can control.
Even though it is a long shot, Milone has a small chance to stay in the rotation when Griffin returns. Tonight will be the deciding factor. If he pitches into the seventh or eighth and has given up less than three runs Milone just might change Melvin’s mind about optioning him back down to Triple-A Sacramento.
In a perfect world Milone will pitch well enough to stay in the rotation and Chavez would move back to the bullpen to sure up things. Chavez has pitched out of his mind so far this season, but his track record shows not to put too much into his numbers so far and that he will probably fall back to Earth. Regardless of who ends up staying, the A’s are in a good place with their starting pitching depth.