The Oakland Athletics quietly made the postseason again in 2019, which is starting to surprise fewer fans. They finished the year with a record of 97-65, which landed them in the Wild Card Game. Unfortunately, they were defeated by the Tampa Bay Rays and knocked out of the postseason.
This offseason, the team made few moves, but are still expected to compete in the AL West. If they are going to do that, it is going to take a good effort from their starting rotation.
Here is a look at what the A’s pitching rotation could look like if the season isn’t canceled due to COVID-19.
1) Mike Fiers
Fiers has played for four teams in his nine-year career. The last season and a half he has been a member of the A’s. While he doesn’t have many individual awards, he has pitched decently over his career. He has a 69-59 career record with a 4.02 ERA.
In 2019, Fiers went 15-4 in 33 starts, as he led the staff. He was able to rack up 184.2 innings pitched, which was a career-high. His ERA of 3.90 was below his career average, as 2019 was one of his most successful seasons to date.
He has only pitched in one career postseason game, which came in 2015 with the Houston Astros. Fiers gave up one run in one inning. If the A’s make the postseason this year, Fiers will have to do better than that to help the A’s win.
2) Sean Manaea
Manaea is a 28-year-old left-hander who has progressed well with the A’s. He has a 35-28 career record with a 3.77 ERA. In the past three seasons, Manaea has posted a winning record for Oakland.
Last season, Manaea had a 4-0 record and a 1.21 ERA in five starts. He had an injured shoulder that was operated on in 2018, but was able to come back late in the season for the A’s to help with their playoff push.
He started one game in the postseason last year and it didn’t go well. Manaea started one game (the AL Wild Card Game) and lasted just two innings, as he gave up four runs. For the A’s to advance this season, Manaea has to show up in the postseason.
Montas is actually expected to be the Opening Day starter for the A’s after a solid preseason. His career has been set back by injuries, but he has a 15-9 career record with an ERA of 3.85. The reason he sits third on this list, despite being the Opening Day starter is that he has never pitched more than 100 innings in a season. Maybe the shortened season will help him manage.
Last season, Montas went 9-2 with a 2.63 ERA. He pitched 96 innings, as he was once again limited by injury. If he can stay healthy and pitch up to his potential, Montas could be the ace that the A’s needed. Unfortunately, his history isn’t on his side.
Montas has never had the opportunity to pitch in the postseason, so if the A’s get that far, they may turn the ball over to Fiers or Manaea for an opening game. Either way, Montas will be used in the playoffs if the A’s make it that far and if he is healthy.
Luzardo hasn’t been able to join the A’s for summer camp after testing positive for Covid-19. The 22-year-old got limited time in the majors last season, but impressed with a 1.50 ERA in 12 innings pitched. He’ll have to fully transition to a starting role in 2020.
There isn’t any postseason experience for Luzardo, but the A’s need him to eat up innings during the shortened season. The A’s have been tight-lipped about whether he will be ready for the start of the season. If he can’t go, expect Chris Bassitt to take his spot in the rotation.
5) A.J. Puk
Puk was another pitcher that got limited playing time for the A’s last season. He went 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in 11.1 innings pitch. The left-hander didn’t start a game, so he will have to transition into that role for the A’s this season.
Like Luzardo, there isn’t postseason experience for Puk, but if he focuses on getting batters out during the regular season, his job will be done.
Make sure to check out our MLB page for more updates!