After Eric Surkamp's rotten start against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday, the third of four where he did not get out of the fifth inning and fourth of four not finishing the sixth, it would be unbelievable if the Oakland Athletics did not call up Jesse Hahn to take Surkamp's place in the rotation.
While Hahn allowed three walks and three runs in an intentionally abbreviated 72-pitch start due to rainouts for Nashville, he allowed just one run in his first three starts over 14 1/3 innings, walking six and striking out 13. Given what we've seen from Surkamp at the major league level, Hahn is clearly the better choice, especially against Houston's righty-heavy lineup.
Additionally, a lot of short starts have also led the the A's to make heavy use of their bullpen, throwing 19 1/3 innings in the six games since their last off day. They don't have a day off for 10 more games, May 5.
What must the A's do?
The obvious solution to is to option Eric Surkamp (he has one option year left) to Triple-A Nashville and call up an eighth reliever to help out until Hahn can start for the A's in Friday's opener against the Houston Astros at the Coliseum. There is a complication, however. Monday's game against the Tigers is under threat of a weather postponement, and as a result, the A's may need a sixth starter anyway, and Sean Manaea is probably just after Jesse Hahn on the depth chart.
Update 4/25 11:35 AM: The forecast has greatly improved, with Weather Underground forecasting very light rain that could start at 5:30 PM Pacific Time, so a postponement is unlikely. However, over at his Beaneball blog, Jason Wojciechowski speculates the if the A's still remain concerned about Jesse Hahn, they could just call up Sean Manaea on Friday for the three or four weeks it could take for Henderson Alvarez to rehabilitate from his shoulder injury.
If a doubleheader were set for Tuesday, the Triple-A starter that would be on turn to start is Zach Neal. Monday's starter, which the front office could hold back, is Dillon Overton. However, neither really has much of a chance to become a regular starter this year, so you wouldn't want to add them to the 40-man roster prematurely. While Hahn would still come up to be the fifth starter, the A's would either need Eric Surkamp to be the sixth starter or call up Manaea for a spot start Friday, and then recall Hahn to start Saturday.
If a doubleheader were set for Wednesday or Thursday, top A's pitching prospect Sean Manaea would be on turn for either day. Nashville has an off day on Wednesday, so the Sounds can move 35-year-old journeyman Chris Smith and the rest of their rotation up a day. Calling up Manaea would also allow the A's to add a reliever to help out Oakland's overworked bullpen.
While the A's could keep Eric Surkamp as an extra starter in case of a doubleheader on any of those days, they would not be able to send him to the minors to call up an extra reliever temporarily. By rule, players optioned to the minor league must stay there for 10 days unless they are recalled to replace a player going onto the disabled list, though they could add one as the 26th man for the doubleheader.
Here's what the rotation would look like under all of these scenarios:
|Scenario||Mon at DET||Tue at DET||Wed at DET||Thu at DET||Fri vs HOU||Sat vs HOU|
|No rain||Graveman starts||option Surkamp for a RP, Hill starts||Gray starts||Bassitt starts||option extra RP, call up Hahn to start||Graveman starts|
|DH Tue call up Manaea||--||option Surkamp for a RP, Graveman & Hill start||Gray starts||Manaea does not take his turn in AAA, Bassitt starts||option extra RP, call up Manaea to start||option Manaea, call up Hahn to start|
|DH Wed call up Manaea||--||option Surkamp for a RP, Graveman starts||call up Manaea as 26th player, Hill & Manaea start||Gray starts||Bassitt starts||option extra RP, call up Hahn to start|
|DH Thu call up Manaea||--||option Surkamp for a RP, Graveman starts||Hill starts||call up Manaea as 26th player, Gray & Manaea start||Bassitt starts||option extra RP, call up Hahn to start|
|DH Tue no Manaea||--||Graveman & Hill start||Gray starts||Bassitt starts||Surkamp starts||Hahn starts|
|DH Wed no Manaea||--||Graveman starts||Hill & Gray start||Bassitt starts||Surkamp starts||Hahn starts|
|DH Thu no Manaea||--||Graveman starts||Hill starts||Gray & Bassitt start||Surkamp starts||Hahn starts|
Is Sean Manaea ready for one major league start? Oh yeah.
Manaea's three starts for Nashville have produced an extremely impressive line: 1.50 ERA, 18 IP, 21 K, 4 BB, 1 HR. While Manaea still has a few things to work on, particularly his pickoff move and his fielding, one April start would be a nice reward for an impressive spring.
While he would end up using an option year, Manaea is a very good bet to move into the rotation permanently at some point this year. He's evaluated so highly that it is unlikely that he would return to the minor leagues after he's added to the regular rotation (as opposed to a spot start like this).
Who would be the extra reliever?
Ahead of Sunday's game, Right-handers J.B. Wendelken and Andrew Triggs are on the 40-man roster. Wendelken has struck out nine, walked three, and allowed one home run in six innings for a 1.50 ERA. Triggs has the same K:BB ratio in seven innings and no home runs, but he's allowed four earned runs for a 5.14 ERA. Neither made an appearance at major league spring training.
Off the 40-man roster, left-hander Patrick Schuster was impressive in spring training, earning a spot on the Bay Bridge series roster. He has a 9:1 K:BB ratio with Nashville so far but has allowed two runs on three hits in 5 2/3 innings. Right-hander Tucker Healy's 10:1 K:BB ratio is best among Nashville relievers while left-hander Daniel Coulombe just pitched 2 2/3 innings on Sunday, allowing an unearned run in 34 pitches to bring his ERA down to 0.96 in nine innings.
The A's still have yet to place Felix Doubront and Eric Sogard on the 60-day disabled list, so there are 40-man spots available for both Manaea and another off-roster reliever.
What's the weather forecast for Detroit this week?
As of 2:30 Pacific Time on Sunday, the Weather Underground forecast for Monday calls for a 57 percent chance of rain at game time, with a chance of thunderstorms throughout the afternoon preceding the game and the chance of rain increasing as the evening goes on.
Update 4/25 11:35 AM: As noted earlier, the forecast has greatly improved, with Weather Underground forecasting very light rain that could start at 5:30 PM Pacific Time, so a postponement is now unlikely. Any rain delay would probably come after enough innings had been played to become official if called.
Tuesday should be rain free after the very early morning, and Wednesday clear all day. There is chance of rain at game time for Thursday's getaway day, but the forecast calls for clearing that will allow the teams to finish the series even if the game starts late.
If Monday's game is postponed, rescheduling the game for Tuesday would allow the clubs to call up a 26th player who would only be eligible for the second game. Rescheduling the game for Wednesday would allow the clubs to use the 26th player in both games.
This post was updated at 10:34 PM to add a scenario where Sean Manaea could start Friday in the event a doubleheader is set for Tuesday.