Is There Another Big Three On The Way?


Jul 26, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Tommy Milone (57) delivers a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays beat the Athletics 10-4. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

The days of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito leading the A’s to numerous postseason runs seem so long ago. Oakland dominated its opponents with their well-known trio of hurlers on the mound, but that dominance ended back in 2004. The A’s parted ways with both Hudson and Mulder after the 2004 season and handed Zito the role of ace in 2005.

When the A’s lost Zito to free agency after getting swept in the ALCS in 2006, there were no more traces of Oakland’s luminous “Big Three” of Hudson-Mulder-Zito. The A’s have gone through plenty of quality starting pitchers in the years since Zito’s departure, but they have failed to assemble another quality trio until, well, now.

Billy Beane has laid out the foundation for yet another strong trio of starting pitching. The A’s seemingly always put an emphasis on the importance of having quality pitching, and when it comes down to it, no one does it better than Oakland.

The A’s started four rookies in the ALDS against Detroit and for the most part each of those rookies did their job in keeping the A’s competitive. 2012 was a season full of firsts for the young Oakland rotation, but the team held its own throughout the magic-filled season. The A’s ranked 6th in baseball with a 3.48 team ERA and 11th in quality starts with 90.

From a quick glance, then, it would appear as if Beane has put the A’s in a favorable position with their starting pitching heading into next year. The foundation is definitely there with youngsters Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone already showing signs of stability and dominance in the majors.

Throw in Brett Anderson, who missed a majority of the season due to Tommy John Surgery, and the A’s rotation is one of the better staffs in baseball.

If the A’s do intend on keeping their pitching depth, they might have a solid trio on their hands for the next few years. Anderson, Parker, and Milone. If they remain healthy, there’s no telling what they could accomplish together. Both Anderson and Parker boast front-of-the-line starter stuff, but remaining healthy will be the key for them next year.

With the A’s recent re-signing of Bartolo Colon on Saturday, the starting rotation should prove to be a strength for the defending AL West Champions. Colon will provide veteran leadership for the team’s mostly young staff and the possibility of re-signing quality veteran Brandon McCarthy remains open.

Oakland’s core, in my opinion, remains in Anderson, Parker, and Milone. Anderson has always had the potential to be the ace of Oakland’s staff, but injuries have plagued his young career. If healthy, he’s an ace. We all saw what he did in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Tigers.

Parker has ace written all over him too. A former first-round draft pick, Parker has the potential to be a front-line starter. The A’s will keep a close on Parker’s development, though, as he’s had health problems in the past. If he steers clear of the injury bug that seems to call Coliseum home, then he should be on track for a breakout season next year.

Milone, meanwhile, is a solid No.3 or No.4 type starter. He’s essentially Dallas Braden Version 2.0. He doesn’t throw particularly hard, but what he lacks in velocity he makes up for with quality control and command of his pitches.

While the days of Hudson-Mulder-Zito are a thing of the past, the possibility of having another “Big Three” does exist with Anderson-Parker-Milone.

A Quick Glance at Oakland’s Potential “Big Three”

  • Brett Anderson, 24, went 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA in six starts this year. He posted a 6.43 K/9 as well as a 2.72 FIP. If healthy, Anderson does possess quality stuff that could make him the ace of this staff next year. Having Anderson lead the charge with an effective pair in Parker and Milone could make Oakland’s rotation dangerous.
  • Jarrod Parker, 23, went 13-8 with a 3.47 ERA in 29 starts this year. He posted a 6.95 K/9 as well as a 3.7WAR, according to Parker impressed in his first full season with Oakland. The former top prospect is on the cusp of stardom and with more experience this youngster should become of the league’s brightest stars.
  • Tommy Milone, 25, went 13-10 with a 3.74 ERA in 31 starts this year. He recorded a 137 strikeouts over 190 innings of work and recorded just 36 walks. He posted a 2.7 WAR according to Milone won’t overpower you with his mid-to-high 80’s fastball, but he will mix speeds effectively and will work with what he’s got. He relies heavily on the placement of his pitches and when he’s on, he’s on. Command is his biggest strength and he should continue to get better next year.