You made the roster! We'll try to get you into a game by June. Not that bad, but as the A's roster takes shape so do the rotations of Oakland's competitors and it may be a while before the A's face a left-handed starting pitcher.
Texas has announced its rotation to begin the season, and expected to throw in the 4-game series April 6th-9th are RHPs Yovani Gallardo, Colby Lewis, Ross Detweiler, and Nick Martinez. (Update: Apparently Detwiler is now throwing left-handed, undermining my entire premise. Perhaps he has always thrown left-handed, who knows? I'm a very busy man who doesn't have time to know simple facts like the handedness of big league pitchers.) Which brings me to the other main purpose of my post: To have the opportunity to mention how bad the Texas Rangers' rotation looks. Sure, Derek Holland will be joining the mix (he is slated to start the 5th game of the season) and Martin Perez is slowly on the mend, but OMG that's your 1-4 to start the season? As the Rembrandts so eloquently put it, "So no one told you life was gonna be this way..."
I'm not suggesting the A's will sweep the series. In fact they almost certainly won't because apparently the Constitution's 28th Amendment states that Oakland may not win on Opening Night. However, you have to like the pitching matchups if you're an A's fan: Sonny Gray vs. Yovani Gallardo, Jesse Hahn vs. Colby Lewis, Scott Kazmir vs. Ross Detwiler, Kendall Graveman vs. Nick Martinez.
You only aren't loving the matchups if you're a Rangers fan or if you happen to be Josh Phegley or Mark Canha. Here's two guys who are champing at the bit for the A's to face a left-handed starting pitcher, and it may be a while. After Texas leaves, the Seattle Mariners come to town to throw their #5 starter -- as of yet undetermined -- presumably followed by Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. Perhaps when the A's travel to Houston they will see a lefty, as the Astros' rotation should include Brett Oberholtzer (and Dallas Keuchel, whom the A's will miss).
Whether the A's see 1, 2, or 3 LHPs in the first two weeks it seems certain that it is primarily Oakland's "vs. RHP" lineup that will be tested first. As much as I like Sam Fuld personally, my stomach turns whenever I see him batting #2 in the lineup. More and more, though, it's looking like the A's initial lineup against RHPs may include Fuld and Eric Sogard and you can't bat them both 9th.
My preferred lineup order in the early days, when the A's are seeing only RHPs and are without Josh Reddick, is probably this one:
Crisp - LF
Zobrist - RF
Davis - 1B
Butler - DH
Lawrie - 3B
Vogt - C
Semien - SS
Sogard - 2B
Fuld - CF
It's not great, and Reddick cannot return soon enough (unless he returns too soon). But I'm itching to see what Phegley and Canha can do at the plate, especially against LHPs, and just eyeballing the two lineups it appears as if the 2015 A's, in contrast to the 2014 A's, may be more robust on offense against LHPs than against RHPs. Sadly, for a while we may be relegated to arguing about it rather than seeing it play out.
Phegley will benefit from being a catcher, as the A's are not going to want Stephen Vogt to catch 11 days in a row even if Oakland were to face only RHPs -- especially with Vogt coming off of foot surgery. So chances are that Phegley will start against a couple of RHPs in the season's first two weeks.
I sure hope the same is true for Craig Gentry, as I would hate to see Fuld start every day while Gentry rides the pine. Gentry doesn't hit RHP much but let's face it, neither does Fuld. Maybe the A's will go more like 50/50 with them until Reddick's return; that would be my hope, anyway.
On the flip side, Canha likely will just have to wait for selected pinch hitting opportunities and the eventual appearance of some LHP starters. Canha won't, and shouldn't, take any at bats away from Billy Butler or Ike Davis until the A's see some southpaws. Still, the Rule 5 pick has rebounded from his "8 for 40 with 41 strikeouts" start to spring training. I believe Canha is 9 for his last 21, and his Cactus League line is suddenly .279/.323/.574. (We won't talk about his 21 strikeouts against 3 walks because it's not fun.)
Have you gotten excited about Phegley and Canha? I have, but at the same time it's excitement I know I will probably have to put largely on hold until May.