Oakland Athletics: Problems With Starting Rotation

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 03: Kendall Graveman
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 03: Kendall Graveman /

The starting rotation has been a rather weak link lately and the A’s face plenty of questions with their young starters.

The Oakland Athletics entered the year with plenty of depth in regards to their starting rotation. From Kendall Graveman to Andrew Triggs, the A’s had plenty of options to roll with back in April.

Injuries plagued a few starters early in the year, but Oakland’s depth was figured to be a strength. That strength has been tested all year and with the season coming to an end, the A’s find themselves with a depleted rotation.

From Triggs to Chris Smith, Oakland has given everyone an opportunity to pitch in the majors this year. In essence, this season has been rather unkind to Bob Melvin and his staff. The A’s have struggled in August and their starting rotation is partly responsible.

Second Half Struggles

Looking at their second-half numbers, Sean Manaea, Graveman and Jharel Cotton have all posted an ERA higher than 6.00.

MANAEA (1-3, 6.96 ERA) 

GRAVEMAN (1-2, 6.20 ERA)

COTTON (1-2, 6.91 ERA)

Manaea, Graveman and Cotton are all expected to play significant roles in Oakland’s future. The numbers they have posted since the All-Star break are rather alarming. When you look past these three, Oakland’s rotation includes a journeyman pitcher and a surprising rookie.

SMITH (0-2, 5.40 ERA)


Smith is not expected to be a crucial piece moving forward. He has filled in and has done his job admirably. Despite his efforts, however, Smith remains a journeyman pitcher without a future in Oakland.

The A’s should roll with Daniel Gossett again next month and that may push Smith out of the picture. Not to knock Smith’s efforts, but the A’s should be rolling with someone they view as an important piece to their future.

Blackburn, like Triggs before him, has been one pleasant surprise for A’s fans. Blackburn has put together several strong starts since his arrival in July. His last two starts have been forgettable, but he did have an excellent start earlier this month against the Angels.

He is 1-0 with a 4.41 ERA in three starts this month after going 2-1 with a 3.05 ERA in July. Overall, the A’s should be happy with Blackburn’s efforts this year. He has established himself as a viable candidate for a starting spot next year.

Oakland Athletics
Oakland Athletics /

Oakland Athletics

Other Options

Despite their added depth, the A’s were derailed early this year by various injuries and an overall lack of production. The starting rotation has been inconsistent this month and no one has stepped up in Sonny Gray‘s absence.

Manaea or Graveman will need to step up and provide the A’s stability at the top of their rotation.

Heading into September, the A’s should give Daniel Gossett another look and perhaps even tinker a bit with Frankie Montas again. Daniel Mengden and Chris Bassitt will also be options not only for next month, but next season as well.

In the end, Oakland’s future will only be as strong as their starting rotation. The A’s have spent the last few years replenishing their farm-system and have acquired quality arms. The A’s have options moving forward, but one question remains: how good will the rotation be? 

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