Tonight's loss against the Dbacks and the A's former ace Dan Haren brought home the painful truth that the A's don't have an ace on their pitching staff. Not yet, at least.
An ace is someone who 1. leads the team in wins 2. stops the team's losing streaks 3. keeps his composure when in big jams and pitches out of them. 4. is durable throughout the season
Barry Zito was an ace. Dan Haren was an ace. Joe Blanton, despite repeated attempts by manager Geren to set him apart for that role, just doesn't have the stuff and makeup of an ace. With tonight's loss, Blanton leads the AL in losses at 10. He is visibly rattled when he gets into jams, knowing he doesn't have the out pitches to escape.
To give Blanton credit, he is an inning-eater, and he will work hard with pitching coach Curt Young to try to improve, but unless he turns it around quickly and pitches extremely well for the rest of the season, he'll have a losing record at the end.
The only two starting pitchers with winning records so far, Rich Harden and Justin Duchscherer, have not yet pitched 70 innings due to injuries. They both have great stuff, and the potential to develop into the ace of the staff, but their durability is still a question mark.
The other two starting pitchers, rookies Greg Smith (4-5) and Dana Eveland (5-5), have shown some promises, but yet unproven on the major league level. How they will fare down the stretch remains to be seen.