The Oakland Athletics optioned starting pitcher Dan Straily to Sacramento and placed relief pitcher Ryan Cook on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 8 with a muscle strain in his right forearm. Relievers Fernando Rodriguez and Joe Savery have been recalled from the River Cats ahead of Friday evening's opener against the Washington Nationals.
Absent further roster moves, the demotion of starter Straily most likely slots Drew Pomeranz into the starting rotation following his five-inning performance in the second game of last Wednesday's doubleheader, where the A's shutout the Mariners. Dan Otero, Rodriguez, and Savery are options in long relief roles going forward, with Otero going three innings in the second game of the doubleheader after going one-third inning in the first game. Rodriguez and Savery have also had previous long relief outings in their MLB careers.
Coco Crisp, who left Wednesday's first game after falling backwards into the outfield wall on an outstanding catch, remains day-to-day, and is not in this evening's starting lineup.
The Athletics rotation has performed a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde routine. The top three starters, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, and Jesse Chavez, are performing at levels that could have each earned them April's American League Pitcher of the Month honors (with Gray the winner). The other two, Tommy Milone and the optioned Dan Straily, have performed poorly.
Friday starter Tommy Milone is 0-3 with a 5.86 ERA in five starts heading into tonight's game. Milone was knocked out of the rotation in 2013 after Sonny Gray moved into the rotation with Jarrod Parker, Bartolo Colon, A.J. Griffin, and Dan Straily. Tommy John surgeries for Parker and Griffin have given Milone a somewhat more secure opportunity to make his mark, though the Athletics have yet to see Milone gain control.
Dan Straily pitched in the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader against the Seattle Mariners. Straily was 1-2 with a 4.93 ERA in seven starts before his demotion today. Straily's 9 home runs allowed this year is tied with two others for the most in Major League Baseball, and is more than halfway to his total of 16 in 2013.
This decision may ultimately have come down to timing with Milone set to start today, and the back end of the rotation may be based on who the hot hand is, as Pomeranz, Straily, Milone, Arnold Leon, and Josh Lindblom all have options remaining. Drew Pomeranz is on turn to start Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox.
With Ryan Cook placed on the disabled list and Drew Pomeranz apparently being moved into the rotation, Fernando Rodriguez and Joe Savery will be tasked to shore up the fourth-best bullpen ERA in Major League Baseball (2.68).
Fernando Rodriguez returned to pitching after missing all of 2013 recovering from Tommy John surgery. He was acquired from Houston in the trade that also brought Jed Lowrie to Oakland for Chris Carter, Brad Peacock, and Max Stassi.
Rodriguez has impressed in Sacramento's bullpen, with an 0.73 ERA over 12⅓ innings. In transactional notes, because Rodriguez's first month in Sacramento was on rehabilitation assignment and he has spent fewer than twenty days on optional assignment in Sacramento, Rodriguez would retain his option year if he is not sent down again this year.
Joe Savery was selected off waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies in February. The Phillies waived Savery to allow them to make room for A.J. Burnett on their 40-man roster. In his MLB career, Savery has a 4.15 ERA in 47⅔ innings.
With the Sacramento River Cats, Savery is 4-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 11⅔ innings, with no home runs allowed. His longest MLB appearance is 2⅔ innings.
Putting it all together
This is General Manager Billy Beane's first test of the bullpen depth he acquired over the winter. Evan Scribner is the last reliever on the 40-man roster in Sacramento before the A's would have to make roster moves to turn to Philip Humber, Frenando Nieve, Jose Flores, or other options.
Drew Pomeranz starting now, rather than next year, is intriguing, especially given that he used his change-up for the first time for 2014 in his Wednesday start. It remains to be seen whether Dan Straily and Tommy Milone can right themselves as the season moves forward.