Saturday's doubleheader prompted the Oakland A's to option Jesse Hahn to Triple-A Nashville and call up right-handed reliever J.B. Wendelken. The A's are electing to make a rotation switcheroo prompted by the need to play six games in five days. The A's will either have to arrange to call up a starting pitcher before Wednesday's contest against the Boston Red Sox or they could throw a bullpen game with the eight relievers available as the club has an off day on Thursday.
Hahn cannot be recalled from minor league assignment until May 18 because optional assignments must last at least 10 days. The A's will need a fifth starter by May 17.
Here is the status of Nashville's rotation (days rest if he starts for the A's on Wednesday):
- Started Saturday (3 days rest): Zach Neal started Saturday's contest and would be on too short a rest period.
- Started Friday (regular rest): Dillon Overton started Friday's contest but gave up seven runs in six innings with two home runs. It was his worst start of the year, having put up a 3.38 ERA with 25 strikeouts and four walks over 26 2/3 innings in the five contests before that.
- Started Thursday (5 days rest): Henderson Alvarez pitched 4 2/3 innings and 77 pitches on his last rehab outing. He is scheduled for another rehab start of five innings and 75 pitches for Nashville on Tuesday.
- Started Wednesday (6 days rest): Eric Surkamp is listed in Nashville's game notes as starting for Nashville on Wednesday anyway.
- Started Tuesday (7 days rest): Chris Smith owns a 5.51 ERA, the 35-year-old is not a prospect.
- Started Monday (8 days rest): Daniel Mengden has made just one start at the Triple-A level, and four at Double-A. He did impress with Nashville, throwing six innings of five-hit scoreless ball while striking out four and walking two. He is Sunday's scheduled starter for the Sounds.
While you could hardly think of a pitcher type worse for Fenway Park than a left-handed flyball pitcher, Surkamp seems to be the one slated to go. Surkamp threw very well against the Round Rock Express on April 29, striking out 10 and walking one in seven innings while conceding just two hits. In his last start, Surkamp struck out six but walked five in five innings.
Five innings might not be enough for the A's to push Alvarez ahead to start in Boston, but if his rehab plan is to go six innings for the start after that, he could join the rotation for that start between May 15-17. However, manager Bob Melvin appeared to lower expectations for an early return:
Melvin says Hahn move indeed made because team needs another starter before his next turn. Not ready to name that extra starter yet tho.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) May 8, 2016
Melvin says #Athletics still plan to have Henderson Alvarez make two more rehab starts however.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) May 8, 2016
J.B. Wendelken was acquired with minor league starting pitcher Zack Erwin in the offseason deal that sent Brett Lawrie to the Chicago White Sox. Wendelken has struck out 20, walked four, and allowed one home run in 11 innings for Nashville, good for a 2.62 FIP and 3.27 ERA. He would make his major league debut if called upon.
The A's optioned reliever Andrew Triggs after Saturday's doubleheader because they were prohibited from keeping him because they had optioned him to the minor leagues on April 30 and he was still within the 10-day minimum period for optional assignments. His call up as the 26th active player for Saturday's doubleheader is a one-day exception to that ten-day rule. The A's could call up Triggs after Surkamp starts against Boston until Alvarez joins the rotation. Triggs has retired all six batters he has faced in the major leagues, four via strikeout.
The decision to option Hahn immediately instead of waiting to see how Sean Manaea performs in Boston should be seen as a big vote of confidence in the A's top pitching prospect. Manaea has struck out nine and walked five in his two major league starts.
This story was updated with information from Bob Melvin's morning press conference with A's beat writers.