Athletics starting pitcher Kendall Graveman has been optioned to Triple-A Nashville, and right-handed reliever Ryan Cook has been recalled to the bullpen in his place, the club announced Sunday morning. Graveman made four starts for the Athletics but only reached the sixth inning in one of them. He conceded 15 earned runs in 16⅓ innings pitched.
Jesse Chavez will take Graveman's place in the rotation, the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser tweets. Chavez started in place of Jesse Hahn last Thursday while Hahn allowed a blister on his throwing hand to heal. In his spot start, Chavez tossed a one-hit six-inning quality start, giving up just a two-run home run to Kole Calhoun that unfortunately was the only scoring in that game.
One thing that might be tipping Oakland's hand is that today's lineup card puts Jesse Chavez in the "starters" section and not the bullpen. However, that might just be a function of Chavez being only three days removed from his spot start.
Hopefully, 'spring stats don't matter' goes both ways
Ryan Cook was optioned to minor league camp during spring training after a terrible 2015 spring training in which he conceded 16 hits and one walk in 5⅓ innings for a spring WHIP of 3.19, striking out just three batters. He allowed 13 runs (10 earned) and racked up a comical 16.88 ERA.
Cook was coming off an injury-plagued 2014 where he seemed to have command issues as well. He walked 22 of the 202 batters he faced in just 50 innings for a career-high 10.9% walk rate (min. 10 innings pitched).
With Triple-A Nashville, however, things have taken a turn for the better. In five appearances, Cook has given up just one base hit, struck out five, and walked two in 5⅔ innings. The only hit he allowed was in his first appearance while visiting high-altitude Colorado Spring. He entered with his team trailing 8-6, pitched the seventh and eighth innings, and picked up the win.
Cook's addition to the bullpen gives the A's another potential strikeout weapon to choose in the late-innings if Bob Melvin wants to get away from pitch-to-contact relievers Dan Otero and Eric O'Flaherty. Otero and O'Flaherty have both struggled late in close games this year.
What's next for Kendall Graveman
Baseball's history is littered with rookies who struggled in their first attempt to stick in The Show. It is certainly a blow for Kendall Graveman not to make it, and he seems to have a great perspective:
Graveman emotional this morning - still feels he has let team down - but says he will go down and work on mental side of game. #Athletics— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) April 26, 2015
An emotional Kendall Graveman said he'll work on the mental side of the game when he heads to Triple-A. Happy to have Zito down there.— Jimmy Durkin (@Jimmy_Durkin) April 26, 2015
Graveman had a good throwing session this morning, free and easy, takes positives from that. Looks forward to working w/, talking to Zito.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) April 26, 2015
Graveman: "I believe I belong. I know I can pitch here. It's a growing process." #Athletics— Jimmy Durkin (@Jimmy_Durkin) April 26, 2015
I prefer to think of this demotion as a "not quite your time yet" situation for Graveman. We'll just throw out these four starts, he'll get a chance to find the movement on his pitches that disappeared on him, and he'll be all the better for it. I love Graveman for being a team player and publicly wearing his performances, but it seems it was just a little too soon too see him. The 23-year-old will be back.