With the loss of Brandon McCarthy to Arizona, and the possibility of slight regressions from Tommy Milone, AJ Griffin, and even Jarrod Parker, are the A's overly reliant on not only the performance but also the health of Brett Anderson?
Performance wise, Anderson may not be able to recreate his incredible stretch from the end of last season. His BABIP was a mere .272 last year and his HR/9 was only 0.26. Both of these statistics are well under his career norms and should go back up at least a little bit this year. Also, Anderson posted a tremendous 1.80 BB/9 which could very well stay the same but has a chance of increasing, as it's hard to tell if the low rate was due to improved command or the small sample size of 35 innings pitched (it is important to note that in 2010 Anderson did have a BB/9 of 1.76 in 112 innings).While Anderson's 6.43 K/9 should increase as he continues to further remaster his pitches after Tommy John Surgery, and the defense behind him may be marginally better, I would think that his ERA won't remain below 3.00. This doesn't mean he'll be bad or disappointing, but it leaves the question of how the staff as a whole will look if frontlined by a 3.30-3.75 ERA pitcher. Parker should be in that region as well, Milone will be sub 4.00, and Griffin might be sub 4.00. That's a really good front four, even if Anderson regresses. But then the five spot is left up in the air. To be honest, I don't trust an unjuiced Bartolo Colon to provide solid pitching performances in the back of the rotation. I don't have many facts to back up this distrust, but I have an overwhelming feeling he's going to fall on his face. Hopefully not literally. If Colon falters, then young Dan Straily seems the most likely next option. Despite his spray contents of beverage out of your nose worthy 6.48 FIP last year, I think he's due for a large improvement as he sorts out his command at the big league level. If he is in fact decent, or if Colon surprises me, even just a good season by Anderson should keep the A's atop baseball in terms of pitching staffs.
But what if Anderson gets hurt? I know this isn't something that's supposed to get written about. I'm sorry. But I'm just concerned that we're banking too hard on his making 25+ starts. Without him for much of last year we were fine. However, that was with an effective Colon and McCarthy. Would the loss of our ace kill our chances at winning the AL West? It would move everyone up a slot in the rotation and mean that that there could be a gaping hole at the newly made #5 slot. I don't know, maybe I'm too ahead of myself. Let me know what you guys think.