A missing ace
The Oakland A’s bullpen woes would not have mattered as much if they had a stopper in the rotation. They just did not have that pitcher.
In theory, this was supposed to be Frankie Montas or, in a perfect world, Jesus Luzardo. Montas did look like that pitcher at the beginning of the season, but struggled mightily after what was supposedly a minor back issue. Luzardo had his moments where he dominated, but was also inconsistent from start to start.
Given the inconsistency from both Mike Fiers and Sean Manaea as well, this left Chris Bassitt as the A’s de facto ace. He was easily the A’s best starter this season, but is not exactly overpowering. Bassitt also does not have the elite spin rates or control needed to overcome his general lack of velocity.
The A’s have obvious financial limitations. They will not be able to sign the likes of Gerrit Cole or Trevor Bauer in free agency. Instead, they need to have one of their internal options step up and become that ace. It could be Luzardo in time, or A.J. Puk if he can stay healthy. But the future does not help the past.
The Oakland A’s needed a true front of the rotation arm. Lacking one made a dramatic difference in the postseason.