The Oakland Athletics incurred another setback this weekend. Rookie starter Kendall Graveman suffered a possible season-ending left oblique strain. Graveman will have an MRI scan on Monday, but the possibility of him returning to the mound this year is unlikely. Now, the Athletics have an open rotation spot that needs to be filled immediately. Oakland will likely call up someone from Triple-A, so who will it be?
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There is much speculation that the Oakland Athletics will call back up Aaron Brooks to start in Graveman’s place. Brooks also pitched yesterday, so timing wise, it would be easy for him to take over Graveman’s spot in the rotation since he will have enough rest time in between starts. Even though Brooks had a rough outing against the Toronto Blue Jays two weeks ago where he only lasted 1.2 innings and gave up eight runs, he seems to have bounced back since being sent to Triple-A.
In his outing last night with the Nashville Sounds, Brooks pitched three seven scoreless innings where he only allowed three hits and struck out eight. If he can bring that confidence back to Oakland, he will most likely perform well once again. However, Oakland does have a few more starting pitcher options to consider.
All of the A’s fans want Barry Zito to make a return to Oakland. This would probably be to the opportune time to bring up Zito since he has been pitching consistently. Unfortunately, he is currently on the 7-day disabled list with shoulder discomfort. Fans will not see Zito in Oakland until he is off the DL. Perhaps he could be a September call-up if he is healthy.
Another option is Brad Mills, who came up from Triple-A to pitch for Oakland during the Baltimore Orioles series two weeks ago. Even though he did not do that great, he is pretty consistent and a solid backend starter. The only other issue is that he is not on the 40-man roster, so the A’s could have to move around some people in order to bring him up.
There is also Sean Nolin, who is on the 40-man roster. Nolin came to Oakland from the Blue Jays in the Josh Donaldson trade this offseason. It is speculated that Nolin could be a pretty fantastic starter. Unfortunately, he has been on and off the DL since last year. Even though he was only activated from the disabled list last week, he looked good during his rehab assignment and his most recent start with the Nashville Sounds.
On August 15, Nolin completed his final rehab assignment where he pitched two scoreless innings and only allowed one hit. Then on August 21, in his first start since returning from the DL, Nolin pitched three innings where he only let up one run. Even though he started in both of these games, it must be assumed that his innings are being limited because he is not completely stretched out to go further into games. However, it seems as though he could be a good option for the Athletics if not now, then in September.
Graveman has been a force on the mound since returning from a short Triple-A stint in late May. It is unfortunate that this young starter incurred such an injury and A’s fans can only hope that he will healthy for the 2016 season. The Athletics will probably not make any moves regarding who will fill his rotation spot until the start date grows closer. But, it is probably safe to assume that Brooks will be back with Oakland come that time.