Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
Prior to the season beginning, the Oakland Athletics were hit with some pretty rough news in more than one way. With the parade toward Tommy John surgery taking place for pitchers all over the league, the A’s were not exempt from feeling its wrath. Jarrod Parker was hit with the news prior to the regular season beginning, while A.J. Griffin is seeking a second opinion, meaning TJS is almost inevitable for him at this point.
Yet, here the A’s stand through the first month of the season and performing as one of the best clubs in the Major Leagues. It’s hard to look at any club this early in the season and say that they’re a surefire contender, but Oakland certainly looks like the real deal, given the fact that they’re coming off of two consecutive American League West titles.
As things stand right now, the A’s boast a pitching staff that has been good for third in the league in ERA, at just 2.61 on the year. Their starters overall are sixth in the league in ERA, while the staff as a whole ranks third in the league in WHIP at just 1.15 issued per inning. They’re not necessarily relying on strikeouts, as they’re just 12th in the league in punchouts, but they’re seventh in the league in walks and relying on a defense that is seventh in Defensive Efficiency Ratio.
They’re led by Jesse Chavez, who has only one win to his credit thus far, but sports a 1.38 ERA to date. Both Scott Kazmir and Sonny Gray have been absolute dynamite in the rotation, with ERAs of 1.62 and 2.25, respectively. The trio has combined for 90 strikeouts against just 24 walks, 13 of them coming from Gray.
Ideally, you’d like to get more consistency out of guys like Tommy Milone and Dan Straily, who have shown flashes (Milone in particular), but therein lies the potential issue with this A’s club. While their rotation as a whole has been impressive to date, they may lack the depth necessary in the long run, given the injuries that key starters have experienced.
For now, though, the Oakland Athletics should continue to keep on plugging. Their offense is proving to be quite potent, helping them to the league’s best run differential by a mile, at plus-36. Their bullpen has had a couple of hiccups, but should be one of the more quality units overall. It’s a matter of staying healthy. If they can avoid having their lack of depth exposed this season, hardly a simple undertaking in a season that features 162 games, they should be just fine even with injuries to Parker and Griffin.