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Oakland A’s option Kendall Graveman and Chris Bassitt to Triple-A

Newly acquired Wilmer Font will take one of the open spots.

Graveman dug himself into a hole to start the year.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A’s optioned pitchers Kendall Graveman and Chris Bassitt to Triple-A Nashville on Thursday, the team announced. Newly acquired pitcher Wilmer Font will take one of the open spots, with the other still to be announced. Relief pitcher Yusmeiro Petit is eligible to come off the bereavement list as soon as Friday.

Graveman has been torched so far in 2018, with an 8.89 ERA through six starts. That stat isn’t skewed by just one extra-awful performance, as he’s managed just one quality start and only twice has recorded more innings than runs. It also hasn’t been bad luck, given his 6.05 FIP. He’s simply been ineffective.

Graveman, 2018: 8.89 ERA, 28⅓ ip, 23 Ks, 11 BB, 7 HR, 6.05 FIP

On the bright side, Graveman has looked better over his last two outings, though the turnaround wasn’t enough to save his rotation spot for now. In his start on April 20 against the Red Sox he altered his windup in an effort to help his command, and in his last game on Wednesday he further adapted by significantly ramping up use of his changeup. According to Brooks Baseball, he used his changeup for nearly half of all his pitches that night, whereas it’s normally averaged more in 10-15% range throughout his career. Time will tell if those adjustments will help get him back on track, but now he’ll get a chance to further work on everything in the lower pressure of the minors.

As for Bassitt, he never got into a game after being called up on April 20. He’d been serving as a long reliever in Triple-A, but he’s a former starter and could potentially be in the mix for future openings in the rotation.

Meanwhile, Font officially joins the roster after being acquired from the Dodgers on Wednesday. The right-hander, who turns 28 in May, had a breakout season in Triple-A last year but hasn’t yet translated it to MLB.

Font, 2017 AAA: 3.42 ERA, 134⅓ ip, 178 Ks, 35 BB, 11 HR, 2.98 FIP
Font, 2018 MLB: 11.32 ERA, 10⅓ ip, 7 Ks, 1 BB, 5 HR, 8.40 FIP

Finally, Petit is on the bereavement list after the passing of his mother in Venezuela. He went on leave Tuesday and must spend at least three days off the roster, making Friday his earliest possible return. The A’s insiders sound confident that he will be back to take the other open roster spot in time for the team’s next game (see Slusser link below). Petit is one of the top arms in the bullpen, both in terms of quality and also ability to go multiple innings at a time.

As for the open rotation spot, Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle does not mention Font among the likely candidates, which suggests he could remain in a long relief role for now. The A’s have an off-day on Monday, which could allow them to skip the open spot and go without a fifth starter until Saturday, May 5. She mentions as possibilities Daniel Gossett (who made two starts already this year) and Brett Anderson (who is thriving in Triple-A but not yet on the 40-man).

Here’s the updated roster, working under the (not yet official) assumption that Petit will indeed be activated Friday.

Oakland A's 25-man roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Sean Manaea (L)
Daniel Mengden (R)
Trevor Cahill (R)
Andrew Triggs (R)

Relievers

Blake Treinen (R)
Yusmerio Petit (R)
Ryan Buchter (L)
Ryan Dull (R)
Emilio Pagan (R)
Lou Trivino (R)
Santiago Casilla (R)
Chris Hatcher (R)
Wilmer Font (R)
Catchers

Jonathan Lucroy (R)
Bruce Maxwell (L)

Infielders

Matt Olson (L)
Jed Lowrie (S)
Marcus Semien (R)
Matt Chapman (R)
Chad Pinder (R)

Outfielders

Khris Davis (R)
Stephen Piscotty (R)
Matt Joyce (L)
Mark Canha (R)
Jake Smolinski (R)

10-day DL: RHP Liam Hendriks (groin), OF Boog Powell (knee)

60-day DL: RHP Jharel Cotton (TJS), RHP Paul Blackburn (forearm strain)

Further injury note: LHP Ryan Buchter left Wednesday’s game with a shoulder problem, so stay tuned to see how that plays out. The next lefty reliever on the depth chart is Danny Coulombe.