The Oakland A’s called up reliever Ryan Dull on Tuesday, the team announced. To make room on the roster, starter Frankie Montas was optioned down to Triple-A Nashville.
It’s a tough break for Montas, who just tossed six scoreless innings against the defending champion Astros on Monday. However, with fellow starter Trevor Cahill set to return from the disabled list for Thursday’s game, someone was going to have to go and so Montas is the odd man out for now. The fireballing right-hander has been a revelation in the rotation, with quality performances in 5-of-8 outings so far.
Montas, 2018: 3.35 ERA, 48⅓ ip, 30 Ks, 15 BB, 2 HR, 3.47 FIP
It’s still a small sample and there’s more to prove over the long run, but he’s been better than anyone was expecting and the A’s are 6-2 in his starts. His strikeout rate is curiously low for a guy who averages 97 mph on his fastball, and he’s giving up a higher rate of hard contact than anyone else on the staff, but for now he’s making it work and keeping the ball in the park. Best of all he’s been durable, averaging six innings per game and twice pitching into the 8th.
The A’s rotation still includes Sean Manaea, Edwin Jackson, Chris Bassitt, and the recently returned Brett Anderson, with Cahill on the way and Daniel Mengden close on his heels as he wraps up his own injury rehab. One more starter will have to be cleared out for Mengden in the near future. Given the way the year has gone with frequent use of the DL, though, we can likely expect to see Montas again at some point. As noted by Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle, this move allows him to keep “getting regular work through the All-Star break.”
In the meantime, Oakland calls on some extra relief help to get them through their current road trip. Dull has struggled to find consistency in the bigs this year, but the 28-year-old looked good lately in Triple-A. Over his last four outings he faced a dozen batters and struck out nine of them, with only one reaching base. Since returning to Nashville in mid-June, he’s got a 2.61 ERA in 10⅓ innings (13 Ks, 3 BB, 1 HR).
Dull, 2018 MLB: 5.06 ERA, 16 ip, 17 Ks, 4 BB, 3 HR, 19 hits, 4.19 FIP
His numbers don’t look great at the moment, but he’s been a quality setup man before and has the ability to be one again if he can right the ship. Considering how hard the A’s have needed to work closer Blake Treinen and top setup man Lou Trivino lately, it wouldn’t hurt to have as many viable late-inning options as possible.
Look for another move on Thursday to activate Cahill, likely at the expense of a reliever.
I wouldn’t read anything into this move, other than the fact that Montas wasn’t needed again before the All-Star break. There are enough starters to handle the remaining six games, and the veterans (Cahill, Anderson, Jackson) can’t necessarily be optioned back to the minors as freely. Bassitt is still needed for Wednesday, and so Montas was the obvious pick to tap out for a minute. In the meantime, they could really use the extra late-inning reliever for as much of this road trip as possible, so it was worth not waiting two more days until after Bassitt’s turn to bring up Dull.
It sucks to get sent down right after such a sparkling outing. However, in a world where the A’s have 30ish players rotating through the 25-man roster, getting demoted isn’t any kind of insult. It’s a procedural move amid a game of musical roster chairs, and we will surely see Montas again before we know it — even if it ends up meaning that he waits for the next Oakland injury, which shouldn’t take long given current trends. Stay tuned to see how the rotation shakes out after the All-Star break!