Starting pitcher Eric Surkamp was claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers on Wednesday. The lefty was designated for assignment by the Oakland A's on Monday to make room for new pitcher Nick Tepesch, who was himself claimed off waivers from the Dodgers.
Surkamp didn't find much success in Oakland, but he filled a gaping hole in the roster by making nine starts for the A's beleaguered rotation. He posted a 6.98 ERA, averaged just over four innings per start, and walked nearly as many batters as he struck out, but somehow the team went a respectable 4-5 in those contests. His job was to be the emergency starter when needed, throw at least a few frames, and keep the team in the game as long as possible -- he generally did those things, as he only allowed more than three earned runs in three of his nine outings. He was the mythical "replacement player," in spirit if not literally by the stats (-0.5 WAR).
The departure of Surkamp is mostly just a sign that the A's like Tepesch better for the "depth starter" role, but in a way it also symbolizes the gradual resurgence of the A's rotation. Sonny Gray and Kendall Graveman have improved from "disastrous" to merely "inconsistent," Rich Hill and Sean Manaea are expected to return from the DL this week, and Daniel Mengden and Dillon Overton have arrived from the minors. Factor in Henderson Alvarez (injury rehab) and Jesse Hahn (forgot how to throw strikes) as potential reinforcements down the road, and the overall group is looking a bit stronger than it did a couple months ago. The need for the emergency spot starter is the lowest it's been all year.
Of course, given the history of the A's and the Rangers swapping players back and forth on waivers (Adam Rosales, Andy Parrino, etc.), who knows if Surkamp might find his way back to Oakland's system someday soon!