Oakland A’s need a top of the rotation starter to take the next step
By David Hill
The biggest issue facing the Oakland A’s as they look to advance in the postseason is their lack of a top of the rotation starter.
There has been a pattern with the Oakland A’s over the past few years. They have been a strong team during the regular season, able to contend with virtually anyone. However, once they reach the postseason, the A’s appear to be nothing more than a paper tiger, easily dispatched without much of a fight.
This was the case in the ALDS this year. The Astros, whom the A’s had easily dispatched in the regular season, turned the tables in the playoffs, battering the Oakland pitching staff. While the ball was flying out of the park for both teams, it was particularly notable against the A’s, who did not have a starter last four innings without giving up at least four runs.
It has been the same story every year. The A’s have the horses for the regular season, but lack that true ace they need to take the next step. That has never been more apparent than it was this year, when a season that had such great promise ended in disappointment.
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This is also easier said than done for the A’s. Their budgetary limits prohibit them from going after the top arms in free agency. Likewise, their need to retain, or otherwise add to their top prospects, makes acquiring such an arm via trade more difficult. While they have made the occasional trade for a Jon Lester in the past, they are far more likely to attempt to catch lightning in a bottle with the likes of Mike Minor.
Instead, the A’s have to hope that one of their prospects will become that pitcher. The hope is that either Jesus Luzardo or A.J. Puk – if healthy – can become that type of arm. While those hopes may pan out in the future, banking on prospects is always a risky proposition.
But this is the reality of the situation in Oakland. Top of the arm pitchers have to be developed by the A’s, and presumably signed to an affordable extension early in their careers. Otherwise, the pattern will repeat itself, where the A’s continue to play well during the regular season, but cannot take that next step forward.
The Oakland A’s desperately need a true top of the rotation arm. The problem is that finding such pitchers on a limited budget is easier said than done.