It is a good thing that Billy Beane can find great young pitching so frequently, with Jarrod Parker out for the season after his second Tommy John surgery was performed last week. Even with that loss to the rotation, Oakland has a fine rotation to kick off the season.
Starting Pitching Rotation Analysis
Potential Rotation Alternatives
ADP designated by * indicates no reported ADP as of date of publication. Projections are based on a compilation of several sources (ZiPS, Oliver, Steamer, RotoChamp), given equal weight.
Named the opening day starter, Sonny Gray was superb after being called up at the end of last season. About the only negative was his BB/9, a pedestrian 2.81. He put up a great K/9 of 9.42, which set his K/BB ratio at a very good 3.35, and with his extreme groundball inducing abilities, as well as his forgiving home park, made it possible to post a stellar 0.6 HR/9. His FIP was just a bit over his actual ERA (2.86 as opposed to 2.67) and even with a sub .300 BABIP, I don't expect a ton of regression. What remains to be seen is how the young man handles being the top starter on his team.
A year from being reborn as a member of the Cleveland Indians, Scott Kazmir has moved to the West Coast and will likely benefit from his new home park's spacious dimensions. Kazmir has an excellent ability to miss bats, posting a 9.23 K/9 to go along with better control than he's ever demonstrated before. Kazmir should be drafted to give his owners a decent set of peripherals and a nice amount of strikeouts. The fact that he can be drafted late only adds to his value in 2014.
Jesse Chavez is moving from middle relief to the rotation due to the A. J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker injuries, and because of that will not be racking up the innings in 2014 as he builds up his stamina. He was able to finally limit the long ball in 2013, putting up a 0.5 HR/9 rate which was a far cry from the 3.52 and 2.55 he posted in 2011 and 2012. He also showed much better control than in the past, but still has room to improve from a pedestrian 3.14 BB/9. I will not be drafting him this March, but will be watching to see how he fares early on to decide if he is worth a waiver pickup.
Dan Straily came on slowly in 2013, but picked up the pace as the season wore on. He gave up two or fewer runs in 9 of his final 11 regular season starts, although his strikeout rate dropped from his excellent minor league rate, ending up at a very average 7.33 K/9. If he can rediscover how to miss more bats, and keep the runs from scoring as he did at the end of 2013, he will be a fine starting pitching option that you can grab in the later rounds of your drafts.
Despite increasing his strikeout rate, Tommy Milone still walks too many batters and let batters take him out of park far too frequently to be considered a stable starting pitching option at this point in his young career. An 87 MPH fastball means he needs to use his control to offset his average 7.25 K/9 and limit damage by opposing hitters. Not worth a pick, except in a deeper AL-only league, you should look elsewhere for pitching help.
Drew Pomeranz will most likely be consigned to Triple-A to start the season, after failing to make the rotation. He would be the first pitcher called up to deal with additional injuries to the starting staff, or ineffectiveness by either Milone or Chavez. Moving from Coors Field to the Coliseum should be a boost for his performance if and when he lands in Oakland, but until then, he is not a relevant fantasy option.
Elbow tendonitis has landed A.J. Griffin on the DL, or will once the season begins. The Athletics will hope that a few weeks rest will allow him to return to the rotation by May, where he can work on further reducing his 1.6 HR/9 rate, and also improve on his acceptable but not spectacular 3.83 ERA to accompany his 1.13 WHIP.
Injuries have taken their toll on the A's rotation, but as has been the case for several years, Oakland keeps finding good young arms to man their staff. Things should improve when Griffin comes back from his sabbatical, too.
If you disagree with my assessments, or just want to discuss starting pitching, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I enjoy comments and am more than willing to engage in discussion about fantasy baseball, so feel free to write.