The 2022 season was a step backward for James Kaprielian.
His ERA, WHiP, strikeout rate, walk rate, and win totals all went in the wrong direction in 2022 compared to 2021. He struggled with consistency and pitching deep into games, lasting six innings in only three of his first 22 starts. There were times of brilliance, but there were also times when it seemed that the Oakland A’s needed to send Kaprielian back to A-ball. Sometimes, both were the case in the same outing.
James Kaprielian giving Oakland A’s signs of hope
Something changed in September. Kaprielian missed the first two weeks of the month due to a cut on his finger, but that time off may have been what he needed. The A’s starter finished the month strong, allowing just five runs on 18 hits and seven walks over his 25 innings, striking out 22 batters.
There were reasons for hope beyond those sparkling numbers. He started pitching deeper into the game, with each outing lasting at least six innings. In fact, his seven inning stint on September 21 matched the longest outing of his career.
This is exactly what Kaprielian needed to close out the season. The A’s 2023 rotation has Paul Blackburn and Cole Irvin locked in barring trades. JP Sears and Ken Waldichuk will likely get extended looks at the beginning of the season. The fifth spot in the rotation could be a battle, especially if Sears and Waldichuk impress in spring training and crack the Opening Day roster.
Right now, Kaprielian heads into the offseason with a leg up on any competition for a spot in the rotation. His strong showing to end the season is going to be remembered as those final impressions make a lasting impact. And just maybe, he is on the verge of becoming a key piece for the A’s rotation moving forward.
The Oakland A’s had hoped James Kaprielian would have already established himself in the majors. He appears to be on the cusp of doing just that.