clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Jesse Hahn back in Oakland A's rotation, Raul Alcantara to bullpen

New, comments
Photo by Don Feria/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s will shuffle their rotation next week, moving long reliever Jesse Hahn into the No. 5 spot and shifting Raul Alcantara to the bullpen, according to Joe Stiglich of CSN and the other inside reporters.

Alcantara started on Friday against the Rangers and got absolutely shelled, allowing eight runs in just two innings. Hahn entered in relief and tossed six quality frames, saving the rest of the pen from having to scramble to fill that space.

Raul, Fri.: 2 ip, 8 runs, 1 K, 2 BB, 2 HR, 4 hits, 58 pitches*
Hahn, Fri.: 6 ip, 2 runs, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 0 HR, 7 hits, 78 pitches

* Alcantara also hit a batter and committed a throwing error. And he didn’t make a new pot of coffee even though he finished the last one (citation needed).

Hahn, 27, has the talent to be a No. 2 or 3 starter, but he struggled with his command last year and more or less disappeared from relevancy. He showed glimpses of bouncing back this spring but couldn’t find enough consistency to earn the job straight out of camp. Now he’ll have another opportunity to get back on track.

Meanwhile, the 24-year-old Alcantara will take a step back into a shorter and lower-pressure relief role. He has made six starts in his MLB career, including five last September, and the results have been shaky at best: three decent showings, three utter disasters, zero quality outings. In particular he has been susceptible to home runs, and he now ranks second in MLB history in HR allowed per 9 innings (behind only former teammate Dillon Overton):

  1. Dillon Overton, 25.1 ip, 4.26 HR/9
  2. Raul Alcantara, 24.1, 4.07 HR/9
  3. Reynaldo Garcia, 20 ip, 4.05 HR/9
  4. Anthony Vasquez, 29.1 ip, 3.99 HR/9

Note: That’s not an A’s franchise history list, it’s an all-time MLB list; merely a coincidence that it starts with two guys who had only ever pitched for Oakland as of last week.

The bottom line is that no players have been added or removed from the roster, but rather a couple have swapped roles. Hahn will start on Thursday in Kansas City.

Of course, as Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle notes, more tweaks will be required when Sonny Gray returns. He is rehabbing a lat strain and is currently expected back in late April, at which point someone will have to cede a spot to him both on the roster and in the rotation. Alcantara is out of minor league options, so if he is sent down to Triple-A then he’ll need to pass through waivers first (Hahn still has an option year remaining).

Hot take: This is the right move. I might have given Alcantara another start just because I don’t like making decisions based on one game, but this was as good a time as any for a quick hook and I’m not arguing against it in the least. The presence of a more-than-viable replacement (Hahn) and the short timetable (Sonny back soon anyway to take this spot) makes the fast decision more defensible.

Here at Athletics Nation we’ve long viewed Alcantara as a reliever, so trying him as a starter at all was sort of a “hey, why not?” type of long shot. Nico said it well in the comments of Friday’s game recap:

There’s a huge difference between "guys you think might be good" who struggle and "guys you don’t think might be good" who struggle. Manaea struggled fiercely when he first came up and AN was generally very positive about him. Same with Graveman.

The problem with Alcantara is that he doesn’t really have the tools to succeed [as a starter], in the eyes of many (including the Eyeball Scout). So [Friday] night was just "what we kinda expected," and wanting him out of the rotation is more never having wanted him there in the first place.

Now Alcantara can get on with settling into the role where he always made the most sense, and Hahn can audition in the rotation (as a more serious long-term candidate) for a couple weeks until Sonny returns. After some creative early-season try-and-see in a rebuilding year, these two pitchers are now where they belonged all along.

Bonus thought: The A’s are trying out tandem starters in the minor leagues, and they currently have an extra eighth reliever stocked in their MLB bullpen. I wouldn’t mind seeing Hahn/Alcantara continue as a dedicated unit who combines for 7-8 innings in that fifth starter spot, with no need for either of them to ever go through the opponent’s lineup a third time. (And if Alcantara can’t even handle that, then how about Frankie Montas instead?)