Oakland Athletics Option Jesse Hahn; Felix Doubront Wins Rotation Spot

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Felix Doubront Will Round out Oakland Athletics’ Rotation; Jesse Hahn Demoted to Triple-A

The rumors that Oakland Athletics starter Jesse Hahn might not make the Opening Day roster were relatively new.

All winter long, it seemed certain that Hahn was a lock for the Oakland A’s rotation in 2016. The only concern was whether last year’s forearm pain would resurface, resulting in a lengthy stay on the disabled list and possibly even another Tommy John surgery.

On Tuesday, the A’s elected to option Hahn to Triple-A instead, following a rough camp. Hahn struggled greatly this spring, posting a 11.15 ERA in 15.1 innings, while striking out 11 and walking seven. More concerning, Hahn was hit hard almost every time he took the mound. He allowed 26 hits, including three home runs. Batters were averaging .382 against him, and it wasn’t exactly soft contact.

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Certainly, that’s one way to look at this news: Hahn did not pitch well, and that is why he was demoted. But there’s more to it than that.

To begin with, this allows Hahn to nurse his elbow along, rather than being thrust into an every-fifth-day situation where he is expected to pitch six or more innings each time out. It was expected that the Athletics might keep a close watch on his innings, and having him start the year in the minors is a good way to reduce his innings without impacting the big league rotation.

There’s also the matter of Felix Doubront, who actually was deserving of a rotation spot. His current numbers don’t look so good: a 6.19 ERA in 16 innings of work. However, his last start was a rough one, and it skewed the small sample size. Up until then, he had been excellent.

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Doubront doesn’t have any options remaining, which meant that in order to keep him, the Athletics would have had to give him the only remaining bullpen spot and send Ryan Dull to the minors. Dull has been lights out this spring, with impeccable composure on the mound. He deserved to be on the Opening Day roster, and Doubront’s move to the rotation opens up a place in the bullpen for the young right-handed reliever.

This is the right move for the A’s. Given the difference in Hahn’s performance last season before his injury, and Doubront’s performance after he was acquired by the Athletics, it’s easy to understand why people would be surprised. However, this allows the Athletics to protect Hahn, reward Dull, and keep Doubront – and that’s the best possible outcome at the moment. Hahn will certainly join the team at some point this season, but until then, he will have more time to work on returning to his 2015 form.

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