Oakland Athletics 2016 Preview: Starting Pitcher Eric Surkamp
Even though the 2016 season has started, a new pitcher joined the Oakland Athletics’ 40-man roster, so he deserves a preview — even though he already started his first game with the green and gold. Eric Surkamp was a non-roster invitee this spring with the A’s and unfortunately did not make the big league roster. However, do to weaknesses in the Athletics’ rotation, Surkamp was called up last Friday in order to make the start against the Seattle Mariners.
Surkamp does not have a ton of experience as an MLB pitcher, but he does have some. Oakland is the fourth club he has pitched for in the big leagues since making his debut in 2012 with the San Francisco Giants. Unfortunately, prior to Friday night, Surkamp had only made seven major league starts while the rest of his pitching experience came as a MLB reliever. While his career statistics are not great — 6.31 ERA over 44 games, he is another arm the Oakland Athletics can utilize this season.
So why did the A’s call up Surkamp and not Jesse Hahn after Felix Doubront landed on the disabled list with an elbow injury? The A’s likely chose Surkamp because of his outstanding outing on April 2 after he took over for Doubront during the final game of the Bay Bridge series against San Francisco. During that game, Surkamp pitched seven shutout innings, allowing only two hits and one walk. His success earned him the call up this past Friday.
Surkamp did not pitch terribly against the Mariners on April 8, but he was not as outstanding as he was during that last game of spring training. He went 4.1 innings, allowing two runs and one walk. He was able to strike out two. On a positive note, Surkamp performed better than the A’s No. 2 starter Rich Hill, who only went 2.2 innings and allowed 4 runs during his Opening Day start.
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Even though Surkamp was not very impressive against Seattle, it does seem as though he will make another start with the Oakland Athletics. Manager Bob Melvin told the press there is no timetable for when Hahn will be ready to be called up, thus leaving Surkamp as the only option to fill the No. 5 spot in the rotation. If Surkamp pitches well in his next start, he might not even be replaced by Hahn later in the season. Hahn could replace another starter who is struggling. This is Surkamp’s time to really leave an impressive on the A’s and prove that he can be a successful big league starter.
Bold Prediction: Eric Surkamp will remain in the rotation when Jesse Hahn returns, but he will be sent back to Triple-A once Henderson Alvarez comes off of the DL in May.