When the A’s swept the San Francisco Giants this past weekend, I was most impressed with A’s starter Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez, who struggled in the past with his command (and emotions), finally seems comfortable on the mound. Gonzalez, who came in the Nick Swisher-deal, is having a very nice season so far.
Gonzalez leads the A’s staff with five wins, and is quietly emerging as a solid young star. At just 24, Gonzalez is having a career year, and has yet to reach his full potential. The A’s certainly have benefited from the Swisher deal, and with Sweeney starting to emerge as a talented hitter, the A’s might’ve won that deal. Gonzalez is a huge part of the A’s future, and right now he’s demonstrating that to us all.
Dallas Braden, who amazed us all with his perfect game this season, is also off to a solid start for Oakland’s rotation. Just behind veteran Ben Sheets, who has been getting better, Braden at 26 is the rotation’s second “veteran” starter. Braden leads the team in ERA with a 3.45 mark. Overall, through his first nine starts, Braden has a 4-4 record and has logged in the most innings (60 IP) on the staff. Braden’s repertoire does not consist of any overpowering stuff, however, his command has been stellar. For the most part, Braden has done his job by keeping hitters honest and off-balance with his off-speed stuff.
Sheets, the A’s $10 million man, has had his share of up’s and down’s this season. However, right now, he has been on quite a nice roll. He pitched six scoreless innings in the A’s victory on Sunday over the Giants, and he’s pitched considerably better than he did in the early part of the season. He recorded eight strikeouts last time out, and that’s an encouraging sight. For the season, Sheets has improved his K:BB ratio to 45:28. If the A’s can continue to get strong performances out of Sheets, the rotation could be one of the best in the American League.
Finally, there’s youngster Trevor Cahill. Cahill has pitched exceptionally well so far this season, and he has been living up to some of the expectations placed upon him. The 22-year old has a 2-2 record and has a 3.68 ERA. Despite his up’s and down’s, Cahill is a legitimate talent and has the potential to become a No.2 or No.3 starter in the league.