Oakland A’s rotation questions working themselves out
By David Hill
The Oakland A’s theoretically have eight pitchers for their starting rotation, but only five spots. It had appeared as though the rotation was set, with Mike Fiers slotted as the A’s fifth starter. However, he will begin the season on the Injured List, as his hip inflammation is still a problem.
Meanwhile, another opening may be about to appear in the rotation. Frankie Montas has been dealing with a finger issue that has popped up in his last two outings, a torn cuticle on his right middle finger causing problems as he pitches. He was removed from his last start as his finger was bleeding during the game, and his availability for the start of the season is in question.
Oakland A’s pitching depth ready to make their mark
Ideally, that fifth spot in the rotation would have belonged to A.J. Puk. The A’s have maintained their plan to keep him as a starter despite any questions about his ability to withstand such a workload. But he is not guaranteed to be ready for Opening Day either, although he has been able to get on the mound.
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But that may not matter. Both Daulton Jefferies and Cole Irvin have proven that they deserve a place on the A’s pitching staff this year. Jefferies has been impressive thus far, posting a 1.38 ERA and a 0.769 WHiP in his 13 innings, issuing just three walks while striking out 20 batters. He has displayed the command and stuff that made him an intriguing prospect for the past few seasons.
Irvin may be the biggest surprise in spring training. Purchased by the A’s for the ever popular cash considerations, he was likely to be nothing more than a depth piece, someone that Oakland would stash in the minors in case he was needed. Instead, he has posted a 1.50 ERA and a 0.833 WHiP in his 12 innings, with just one walk and eight strikeouts.
The 2021 season is bound to be one where every team has their depth tested. The A’s were already in a great position to withstand injuries, especially with a trio of solid prospects on the cusp of the majors. That depth may be tested early, but there is no question that Oakland has the players needed to handle any rotation issues.
The Oakland A’s had plenty of options for their rotation but not enough spots for all of them. Those issues are starting to work themselves out.