The Oakland A’s have made many moves this season to shore up both their starting rotation and bullpen, but there is no way they could have envisioned or prepared for their ace going down.
The team announced today that projected Opening Day starter Jarrod Parker will miss the entire 2014 season, as the righty will undergo Tommy John surgery for the second time. The A’s received the unfortunate news after Parker visited the famed Dr. James Andrews.
Parker has blossomed into one of the A’s best young players since being traded from the Diamondbacks in 2011, winning 25 games over the past two seasons to along with a 3.68 ERA. He finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2012, and was slated to take over the No. 1 spot in the rotation after the A’s let Bartolo Colon go in free agency.
To add insult to injury, A.J. Griffin, yet another starter, will be out three weeks with a muscle strain in his pitching arm. And Scott Kazmir, who the A’s brought in to essentially replace Colon, experienced stiffness in his left triceps and did not make his scheduled exhibition start on Tuesday.
While Kazmir’s injury may be minor, the A’s suddenly find themselves with at least 40 percent of their starting rotation missing, and that’s never good for a team that is built around pitching.
But thanks to the many moves that GM Billy Beane and Co. pulled off this offseason, the A’s have no shortage of depth waiting in the wings in case of a disaster, and this certainly constitutes as one. The inconsistent Tommy Milone will likely replace Parker, while Jesse Chavez, a long reliever who has four career starts, will take Griffin’s spot. They will join Kazmir and youngsters Sonny Gray and Dan Straily to complete the makeshift five-man rotation. While manager Bob Melvin has yet to announce his Opening Day starter, it is presumed that Gray will slide into the No. 1 spot.
In case of further injuries, the A’s still have more weapons. Drew Pomeranz, acquired in the Brett Anderson trade, has made 30 starts over three seasons with the Rockies, while Josh Lindblom, brought over in the Craig Gentry deal, made five starts with the Rangers last year. Also, Beane constructed arguably the best bullpen in baseball over the offseason, which should come in handy with a depleted rotation.
So does the Parker injury – and to a lesser extent, Griffin’s absence – severely handicap the A’s? It shouldn’t, just purely based on the amount of depth they have to step in when needed. A second Tommy John surgery for Parker definitely hurts, especially since no one knows if he will be the same pitcher when he returns, but if there is one team well-equipped enough to handle the loss of their ace, it would be the A’s, who have shown the past few years that they can win under any circumstance.