Oakland Athletics’ Pitchers A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker are MIA in Starting Rotation

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Righty-Duo Anchored Reliable Starting Rotation in 2012 & 2013

In 2012 and 2013, when the Oakland Athletics were winning AL Western Division Titles and ace Sonny Gray was only a Triple-A gleam in manager Bob Melvin’s eye, the starting staff was piloted by hurlers A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker.

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In 2013, Griffin and Parker led A’s starters in innings pitched, with Griffin tossing 200 innings and Parker throwing 197.  Parker, 26, went 25-16 with a 3.73 ERA in his two seasons with Oakland – and prior to the emergence of Sonny Gray, he was the presumed ace of the staff.  Fellow-righty Griffin, with gold locks blowing below his cap, debuted in June 2012 and went an impressive 7-1 with an ERA of 3.06 in 15 starts for the A’s. In 2013 he showed more promise with a 14-10 record and 3.83 ERA in 32 starts before being shut down before the playoffs.

However, both pitchers have been sidelined, missing the 2014 and 2015 seasons. With the A’s not performing to the levels they were when both righties were on the active roster, one has to wonder how the A’s would have done with the right-handers in the rotation.

Parker has been sidelined since undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2014. He’s had a series of unsuccessful rehab attempts this year, including being shutdown in extended spring training after throwing three simulated innings. Then, in a scary May 8 game in Nashville, he grasped his arm after throwing a wild pitch on his 87th pitch of the night and suffered a epicondyle fracture in his right elbow.  Days later, he had successful surgery by Dr. James Andrews to clean up and repair the fracture. Fortunately, Parker’s previously revised ulnar collateral ligament did not need repairing, meaning the right-hander was able to avoid a third Tommy John surgery, which could’ve been career threatening.

Griffin, now 27, also sat out both seasons after undergoing his own Tommy John surgery in April 2014 after beginning the season on the 60-day DL with flexor tendonits in his right elbow. In 2015, Griffin was limited to throwing only bullpen sessions. In June, he began his minor league rehab and, after throwing three innings for the Stockton Ports, he was optioned to Triple-A Nashville. Earlier this month, Griffin was back on the 60-Day DL with a strained right shoulder.

Both are expected to be back for spring training in 2016, contending for spots in the rotation. The last reports by the A’s said Parker was resting comfortably. However, coming back after two Tommy John surgeries and a broken elbow could make his return to his original status doubtful. It’s a lot to hope for.

Griffin has always had excellent control. With his original command he will most likely be successful in the rotation next season. The amount of success, however, depends on his pitch selection of fastball, curve or changeup. He could be plenty effective without putting the strain on his elbow that a cutter or slider necessitate.

The A’s so far have used a record 28 different pitchers this season (including Ike Davis for blow out relief roles), and twelve of those were used as starters. Outside of Sonny Gray (13-7) and September call-up Felix Doubront (2-0), no other Oakland Athletics’ starter has a winning record, and other than Gray, no one else would be a lock for next season.

Next: Four Relievers Who Should Return in 2016

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