3 Athletics pitchers who'll make the Opening Day roster but won't last the season

A look at three pitchers who might not make it through the 2024 season in Oakland
May 22, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Kyle Muller (39) pitches
May 22, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Kyle Muller (39) pitches / Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletics will have a number of position battles during the spring. Between the fifth rotation spot, the closer role, and shaking down the left side of the infield, we'll have a lot to watch over the next 6 weeks.

Today we'll take a look at a few pitchers who will likely make the A's opening day roster but won't make it through the summer in Oakland.

Kyle Muller was one of the players who came back in the Sean Murphy trade last winter. He threw 77 innings for the A's in 2023, none of them very good. He posted a 7.60 ERA, and his 6.14 FIP was just as bad.

Muller had success at Triple-A in 2022, pitching to a 3.41 ERA in 134 innings, but his cup of coffee in Atlanta that year didn't prove successful and he didn't make any improvements last season.

He doesn't have any minor league options remaining so he's likely to start the season in the A's bullpen. If he struggles in the first half and guys like Joe Boyle, Joey Estes, and Adrian Martinez are pitching well in Triple-A and pushing for playing time, and if Ken Waldichuk comes back healthy, Muller could get bounced.

It would be a tough decision to DFA him but a second straight bad year in the majors wouldn't leave much in the way of confidence for the young lefty. He needs a turnaround in 2024, and earlier in the year than later to boot.

Luis Medina came to Oakland in the Frankie Montas deal, coupled with Waldichuk and JP Sears. Like Muller, he doesn't have any options left so he's either on the major league roster or getting DFA'd.

His performance in 2023 wasn't encouraging, with a 5.42 ERA and a below-average 21.4% strikeout rate in 109 innings. His 36 minor league innings since the trade haven't been better, with an ERA north of 9.00 while giving up some very loud contact.

Like Muller, Medina needs to take a step forward this season. He's still just 24 and not far removed from being one of the better pitching prospects in the Yankees' system, but 2024 is a make or break year for him.

Medina should get a decent amount of leeway to find his footing and have success in the majors but if we get to the All-Star break and he's got an ERA north of 5.00 and a poor FIP to match, David Forst might be forced to make a decision about whether he's part of the A's future.

Dany Jimenez has pitched parts of two seasons in Oakland with mixed results. He has a career 3.51 ERA in the majors but his 4.93 FIP in 2023 leaves a lot to be desired. He has a league average strikeout rate but has run his walk rate up above reasonable, posting marks of 12.4% in 2022 and 14.9% in 2023.

He also became an extreme fly ball pitcher in 2023. 550 pitchers threw more than 20 innings in 2023 and Jimenez's 56.1% fly ball rate was 8th highest of the group. He got fairly lucky allowing just 3 homers last season but there isn't much room for error if he allows slightly better contact.

The good part for Forst is that Jimenez does have minor league options left so they won't have to DFA him if he's under-performing. There's been talk of Jimenez working in a high-leverage role in 2024 and it's tough to see that working out.

In my opinion, the A's have better late-inning arms with guys like Trevor Gott and Mason Miller, and even guys like Zack Jackson and Lucas Erceg who have flashed really good stuff out of the bullpen. If Jimenez struggles, I'd expect him to get shifted down in favor of a younger player with more upside.