Oakland A’s should not expect much from James Kaprielian just yet

Oct 2, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher James Kaprielian (32) reacts after a play during the sixth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 2, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher James Kaprielian (32) reacts after a play during the sixth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Oakland A’s are finally set to have their rotation back and fully healthy. James Kaprielian will make his A’s debut on Sunday as he has completed his rehab from shoulder issues that sidelined him to begin the season. As he is regarded as a key part of the future, his return has been eagerly awaited.

Kaprielian showed the potential to be a part of the long term solution last year. He posted a solid 4.07 ERA and a 1.223 WHiP in his 119.1 innings, striking out 123 batters with just 41 walks. That performance made it easy to hope that Kaprielian can be a future top of the rotation arm, just as he was expected to develop into before injuries interrupted his minor league career.

Patience will be needed with James Kaprielian in 2022

But that does not mean that Kaprielian will be ready to take the crown as soon as he returns. He has not exactly dominated at Triple-A during his rehab outings, allowing nine runs on 12 hits and five walks over his 8.2 innings. While he has struck out seven batters, he has not been the same pitcher he was last year in Oakland.

It is also not fair to expect him to immediately be that same upon his return to Oakland. Even if his pitch count is where it should be, he still needs to work on his stuff and location. That is going to take time – much more than three starts in the minors.

At the same point, it is not as though the A’s have much of a choice. Adam Oller, who had originally been in that spot on Sunday, has not appeared to be major league material. If the A’s are going to continue their surprising start to the season, they need someone who can at least give them a fighting chance.

Kaprielian can be that, even as he continues to find himself on the mound. He has displayed the ability to keep the A’s in the ballgame even without his best stuff. Chances are, he will need to do that again on Sunday.

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James Kaprielian is set to make his 2022 debut on Sunday. It just may take some time before he gets back to being the pitcher the Oakland A’s are used to.

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