With the injuries to Jharel Cotton, Paul Blackburn and even the Oakland A’s top prospect A.J. Puk, the role of the team’s number five starter has, by default, fallen upon 25-year-old right-hander Daniel Gossett and today we got our first real look at the kid who will be pitching every fifth day.
It could have been worse, a lot worse. Gossett breezed through the first two innings without issue, getting Joe Panik, Brandon Belt and Buster Posey out quickly in the first inning. He faced just one batter over the minimum through two innings, allowing Brandon Crawford to reach base on a very rare fielding error by second baseman Jed Lowire.
However in the third inning things began to go awry for Gossett. He allowed three runs on a two-RBI double by Buster Posey and a sacrifice fly by San Francisco Giants’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval. The A’s answered back in the bottom of the third inning when Dustin Fowler singled and was later driven in on a line drive by Jed Lowrie, leaving the game with a score of 3-1 going into the fourth.
After allowing another run to score on a RBI single by Nick Hundley that plated Gorkys Hernandez, Gossett’s day was done and A’s skipper Bob Melvin motioned toward the bullpen. Gossett went 3.2 innings allowing four runs on five hits, two walks and getting two strikeouts. It really could have been worse for the kid who wasn’t really even in the running for the starting rotation but he’ll have to be able to stay in the game longer than 3.2 innings during the regular season.
Yes, I know that is the reason that the A’s are planning on having an eight-man bullpen. It’s for days like these that they’ll need relievers who can pitch multiple innings on an almost daily basis. And the A’s bullpen came through.
Yusmeiro Petit came in for Gossett and pitched 1.1 innings of shutout baseball allowing just one hit and collecting a strikeout. Following him Danny Coulombe, Liam Hendriks, Raul Alcantara and Simon Castro pitched an inning each. The only blemishes on the day for the Athletics’ bullpen were walks by Coulombe and Castro and a solo-shot by Pablo Sandoval off of Alcantara.
So the A’s lost to the Giants by the score of 5-1. The A’s needed to find some offense against Giants’ starter Johnny Cueto who went 5.2 innings allowing one run on five hits and one walk while striking out six. They almost did at times, but it wasn’t enough to push anymore runs across home plate.
After Cueto was taken out in the fifth, the A’s managed just a single hit off of Giants’ reliever Derek Law. In the bottom of the ninth the A’s faced Pierce Johnson who pitched a perfect inning, striking out the side.
Tomorrow night at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, the Rollie Fingers-mustached Daniel Mengden, will face off against Derek Holland - the very same Derek Holland the A’s faced for eight years while he was with the Texas Rangers. Holland, who pitched for the Chicago White Sox in 2017, is attempting to make a comeback after his final two seasons with the Rangers and last season with the White Sox were less than stellar. Between 2015-2017 he posted a 5.50 ERA over 56 starts and 60 appearances.
Mengden who, like Gossett, was on the fringe of making the rotation until the rest of the A’s starters started dropping like flies one by one, has some big league experience. He started 14 games for the Athletics in 2016 but struggled posting a 6.50 ERA. In 2017 he went back and forth between the A’s and Triple-A Nashville, making just seven starts but pitching to a tune of a 3.14 ERA over 43.1 innings and pitched a complete game shutout, ending the season with a 3-2 record.
Of course that is the Mengden that the Athletics and the fans are hoping to see tomorrow across the bay, but we will have to wait and see which Mengden decides to show up. The same goes for Holland, however, who had some decent years while with the Rangers. The A’s offense will need to show up too, and it hasn’t been of late, despite the team being rated as having the 10th best lineup in the league by MLB.com.
Tomorrow night’s game should be yet another interesting matchup between the cross-bay rival teams, but Mengden will have to go deeper into the game than 3.2 innings if the A’s are to keep their bullpen from getting fatigued so early in the season - well, actually it’s technically not even the season yet, so let’s hope that using the bullpen for over half the ballgame doesn’t become a regular occurance.