The Oakland A’s biggest issue was that they lacked a potential future ace. That may have changed.
Ken Waldichuk is the best hope for a top of the rotation arm out of what the A’s have at the major league level. He had worked himself from a relative afterthought into becoming a top prospect, eventually emerging as the Yankees’ top pitching prospect before he was sent to Oakland. His improved arsenal and track record of dominating at every level before being promoted to the A’s. He has displayed that potential thus far, making it possible that he can become the pitcher the A’s need.
Cole Irvin has been the A’s best starter thus far in 2022. He has been able to use pinpoint accuracy to counter relatively mediocre velocity, especially when it comes to his four-seamer. That ability to spot his pitches where he wants, and generate impressive whiff rates despite barely being able to touch the mid 90s, has made him a surprise since coming to Oakland. At this point, he could be a building block in the middle of their rotation.
Paul Blackburn is another piece that suddenly developed into a viable piece for the future. The A’s All Star representative this year had an odd season – pitching much better on the road than at home before seeing his overall numbers take a hit due to injury. However, he showed that he was far more than a Quad-A player and depth piece. Blackburn has emerged as a possible piece for the future rotation as a solid third or fourth starter.
The problem comes in filling the other two spots in the rotation. There are intriguing prospects, but they may not be ready to take that step to the majors until the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024. However, the Oakland A’s have a solid core group to build around.