Jesse Hahn will start on Tuesday for the Oakland A's in their game against the Texas Rangers, Bob Melvin announced in his post-game press conference on CSN after Monday night's victory. In order to make that possible, catcher Josh Phegley will be placed on the disabled list after experiencing a knee issue over the last week.
Hahn was optioned to Triple-A Nashville on May 8. Normally, players on optional assignment must stay down for at least 10 days -- that means Hahn shouldn't be eligible to return until Wed., May 18. However, there is an exception to that rule if another player goes on the disabled list. With Phegley going on the DL, Hahn may come back to replace him on the roster before his 10 days are up.
Eric Surkamp had previously been scheduled to start Tuesday, but with Hahn returning, the lefty will be optioned back to Triple-A Nashville where he will rejoin their rotation. Melvin did not announce who will come up to replace Surkamp, but it's worth noting that with Matt McBride already on the roster the A's don't need to bring up another catcher to replace Phegley.
Notes on the players involved:
- Jesse Hahn has made two starts for the A's this season, with a line of 12 ip, 4 ER, 4 Ks, and 6 BB. He has made five starts in Triple-A, with a 1.93 ERA but a shaky K/BB rate of only 1.80. Despite those pedestrian numbers, though, the 26-year-old righty carries high upside and showed a glimpse of what he can do last year when he posted a 118 ERA+ in 16 starts in the bigs. He's back in Oakland's rotation where he belongs, hopefully permanently this time.
- Josh Phegley hasn't played since May 9 due to a knee issue, for which he received a cortisone shot a few days later. The backup catcher has played sparsely this year, receiving only 39 plate appearances in the early going and posting a .270/.308/.324 batting line. If his DL stint is backdated due to his inactivity the last several days, then he should be eligible to return on May 25.
- Eric Surkamp was ineffective in his last start against the Red Sox, getting yanked in the 3rd after allowing four runs. Overall he has posted a 6.55 ERA in five starts, with a line of 22 ip, 12 Ks, 14 BB, and 4 HR. The lefty will return to Triple-A, where he will wait for the next time the A's rotation springs a leak.
- Matt McBride started behind the plate on Monday, in what would normally have been Phegley's place against the opposing lefty Derek Holland. McBride went 0-for-3 but did reach on an error (grounder to SS, but 1B clanked the catch). He also caught Sean Manaea's first career win, for what that's worth.
Finally, who will come up to replace Surkamp? Let's speculate!
If the A's choose to bring up an extra position player to round out their short bench, their likeliest option is probably Max Muncy, who was not in Nashville's lineup on Monday. The 25-year-old has MLB experience, and he's hitting well in Triple-A (.279/.399/.459, 6 HR). He also plays several positions, as he's a 1B/3B by trade but has primarily manned LF for the Sounds this year. However, if the A's would prefer a right-handed batter with several more southpaw opponents ahead on the docket, then perhaps we could be treated to the debut of corner infielder Renato Nunez; the 22-year-old top prospect is hitting well (.288/.342/.545, 7 HR) but has a poor defensive reputation. Outfielders Jake Smolinski and Andrew Lambo also have MLB experience, but both are hitting poorly in the minors right now.
It seems unlikely they will opt to bring up an extra reliever to supplement their generally overworked bullpen. Of the realistic options on the 40-man roster, righty J.B. Wendelken (May 10) and lefty Daniel Coulombe (May 11) were both optioned back to Triple-A less than 10 days ago and aren't eligible to return yet; long man Zach Neal started for Nashville on Monday, so bringing him up just to rest for a few days in Oakland's bullpen would be pointless; and Henderson Alvarez is not ready to return this week from his injury rehab.
UPDATE (Tue., 12:00 p.m.):
The minor leagues are stirring.
That first tweet is outfielder Tyler Marincov moving from the High-A Stockton Ports up to the Double-A Midland RockHounds.
The second one is 1B/3B Ryon Healy moving up from Double-A Midland to the Triple-A Nashville Sounds.
The Sounds already have so many 1B/3B types that they have a pair of first basemen playing the corner outifeld spots (Muncy/Olson), so it's safe to say that the A's are planning to call up one of those 1B/3B guys on Tuesday. That likely eliminates Smolinski and Lambo from contention.
Muncy is still the most likely bet here, for reasons detailed above. However, Nunez is still a possibility if the A's would prefer a righty bat for the rest of this week, as they are still scheduled to face three more lefties in four days.