The Oakland A’s have dealt with several injuries to their starting rotation this season, but they’ve managed to weather the storm so far without having to go Full Detwiler. Only once have they needed to turn to a true emergency stopgap replacement, Cesar Valdez on April 20, and otherwise every game has been started by a pitcher who was intentionally supposed to be there (Raul Alcantara seemed like a decent idea at the time).
The good news is, help is finally on the way! Three hurlers are in the final stages of their recoveries from injuries of varying severity: Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, and Chris Bassitt.
The big lefty departed after just two innings on April 26. He went on the DL with a strained shoulder, and has missed two starts so far. After an initial setback, he is now scheduled to make a rehab appearance on Tuesday for Triple-A Nashville, says Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. (She also has news on Josh Phegley; click through for more on him!)
The mustachioed righty had foot surgery just before spring training and has missed the whole season so far. He’s on the mound for Triple-A Nashville at this very moment on Monday evening, and he’ll throw 60 pitches in this rehab outing, reports A’s beat writer Jane Lee.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen the right-hander, as he had Tommy John surgery last May. Now he’s back in action, and at only 12 months since surgery his recovery has been on the faster side. Better yet, he’s already dominating in his rehab — in two games for the High-A Stockton Ports, he’s thrown seven scoreless innings with a line of 7 ip, 7 Ks, 2 BB, 3 hits.
His next test will come in Triple-A, as he’ll pitch in a tandem effort with Manaea on Tuesday. Bassitt will throw 75 pitches, according to Jerry McDonald of the Mercury News.
This is all great news for the A’s. They’ve managed to patch their holes so far this season, but they were just about out of quality rotation depth. The next injury was going to mean reaching into Triple-A to either rush a prospect (like Paul Blackburn, Raul Alcantara, or Daniel Gossett) or dust off a last resort (like Chris Smith, Michael Brady, or even Ross Detwiler). Even Cesar Valdez is gone to the Blue Jays.
Here’s the current depth chart:
- Sonny Gray
- Kendall Graveman
- Jharel Cotton
- Andrew Triggs
- Jesse Hahn
- Veteran Stopgaps (Smith, Detwiler, etc.)
- Not Ready For MLB (Blackburn, Alcantara, Gossett)
Don’t get me wrong, that’s a good rotation! I want all five of those guys pitching for the A’s, and if that was the rotation the rest of the year then I could live with that. But more stuff will happen — someone else will strain a shoulder or tweak an oblique, or worse (hopefully not), and Oakland will need another replacement whether short- or long-term. Maybe it’ll happen tonight or maybe it won’t happen until July, but it’s best to be prepared ASAP.
That’s why this is a particularly great time for the A’s to have not one but three arms nearing their returns. These rehab outings don’t necessarily mean they’ll be back imminently, and in fact timetables haven’t been announced for any of them; the one thing we do know is Bassitt definitely can’t return until June because he’s barely halfway into his stint on the 60-day DL. But they’re all close enough that they’re pitching in real games, and that’s a heck of an encouraging step.