The Oakland A’s went into spring training with one of the best bullpens in the MLB. But now it looks as though their starting rotation could be drastically different by the time Opening Day rolls around. Two starting pitchers, Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, have been medically examined this week for injuries they have sustained this spring and the news is not good.
Parker was projected to be the Oakland A’s Opening Day starter, and now it seems as though he will end up on the DL. He has recently been experiencing right forearm tightness and will be seeing the doctor who did his Tommy John’s surgery in 2009 out in Alabama on Monday. With a 10.61 ERA over 9.1 innings this spring training, it seems as though this injury could have been effecting him more than the Athletics have let on. Many are speculating that the prognosis will cause him to miss the start of the season.
Griffin saw a doctor in Scottsdale, AZ and did not receive good news. He has been experiencing right elbow problems, which has resulted in a 10.38 ERA over 8.2 innings during spring training. After his MRI on Friday, it became clear that he has a flexor muscle strain. Griffin has been told to rest for three weeks before he can begin to strengthen his arm once again. Because of this, Griffin will miss the start of the season. However, the upside is that he does not need surgery, which would have put him out for a larger chunk of the season.
With potentially two out of five pitchers in the starting rotation out for the beginning of the season, what will the Oakland A’s do? Manager Bob Melvin says that the most probable replacements are Tommy Milone and Jesse Chavez. Milone bounced between the major leagues and minor leagues in 2013, but was able to start 26 games for the Oakland A’s last year. He has done relatively well during spring training where he has earned a 3.86 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. Milone’s previously big league pitching experience would help if he does get pulled up from Triple-A to take a spot in the pitching rotation.
Jesse Chavez is usually the A’s long reliever. Even though he does not typically start games, he is looking better than ever this season. Chavez currently has a 0.00 ERA over 12.2 innings where he has only allowed eight hits. He also started two out of the four games in which he has pitched, which demonstrated his potential as a starter. If Chavez is added to the starting rotation, it will be interesting to see how easily he will transition into the starting pitcher role.
Monday will decide the ultimate fate of the Oakland A’s starting pitching. If Parker’s diagnosis keeps him out of the bullpen during the start of the season, Sonny Gray or Scott Kazmir are liking to open up the season on the mound against the Cleveland Indians on Opening Day. Let’s hope that the Athletics can quickly fill the holes in their rotation and get into a good groove before March 31st.
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