The Oakland A’s only have 21 games left in the regular season, but there are still injury recoveries that could impact their playoff push. In particular, there are a few starting pitchers who could yet make a difference one way or other for a team whose rotation is down to its last legs.
The first of those is Brett Anderson, who went on the disabled list last week with what turned out to be nerve irritation in his arm. He seems to be on the mend quickly, though, and he could be back in the rotation as soon as next week, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. The A’s travel to Baltimore next Tuesday and then Tampa Bay after that, and the left-hander could make a start on that trip after a successful throwing session yesterday. Check out Slusser’s full writeup for the next step in his rehab.
Hot take: With the A’s down to three starters and three backups, they can use all the help they can get. Anderson was unhittable in August before going down, so slotting him back in would seem to be a big boost to a team currently relying on frequent bullpen games.
Next up is Andrew Triggs. The right-hander has been out since May, also with nerve irritation in his arm, but he took a big step forward by going on a rehab outing in the minors on Wednesday. Although the season is over for the High-A Stockton Ports, they made their league’s playoffs, so there was still an opportunity for Triggs to pitch in a meaningful game.
The 29-year-old Triggs entered in the 7th inning with the score tied. He worked through a quick frame, but then got in trouble in the 8th and had to be bailed out by teammate Pat Krall. His total line was as follows:
Triggs, A+ Wed: 1⅔ ip, 0 runs, 2 Ks, 2 BB, 1 hit, 34 pitches
If he does return this year, then it will be out of the bullpen, reports insider Jane Lee. His last 26 appearances have been starts, dating back to 2016.
Hot take: I think getting back Triggs would be huge. Not only is he good in general, but he’d be a perfect fit for the “opener” bullpen strategy. He could throw 3-5 efficient innings in that “bulk guy” role, and he could surely benefit from skipping the top of the lineup the first time through. The A’s have tried him as a starter the last three seasons and he’s landed on the long-term DL each year, so it’s time to try something new and this is coincidentally the most perfect role I could ever have imagined for him. Or, if that’s too heavy of a workload, even just 1-2 strong innings at a time would be helpful.
The prognosis isn’t so good for Sean Manaea, who is out with tendinitis in his rotator cuff. Unfortunately, the latest word last week was that the left-hander has a “less than 50/50” chance of returning this year, reports Lee. He leads the team by a substantial margin in both starts (27) and innings (160⅔).
The only other pitcher with any hope of coming back in September is Paul Blackburn, who has been out since July with tennis elbow. There aren’t any recent updates on the right-hander, with the latest being that they hope to get him back and that it would most likely be in the bullpen.
Finally, there’s one more development down in the minors. Top prospect Grant Holmes, who missed the entire season with a rotator cuff injury, returned to the mound for two games with High-A Stockton before their campaign ended.
Holmes, 8/29: 3 ip, 1 run, 4 Ks, 0 BB, 1 hit, 1 HR, 43 pitches
Holmes, 9/03: 3 ip, 3 runs, 4 Ks, 2 BB, 3 hits, 0 HR, 65 pitches
The 22-year-old right-hander ranked No. 10 on our preseason Community Prospect List, and was expected to see time in Triple-A this year before injury got in the way. It’s a nice bonus to see him finish up a lost season with a return to action, and he’ll get to make up for some missed time in the Arizona Fall League.
Summary of MLB disabled list:
- Triggs: on rehab assignment (High-A)
- Anderson: resumed throwing, could return next week
- Blackburn: resumed throwing
- Manaea: likely out for season but not for sure
- Smolinski: likely out for season (blood clot)
- Cotton: out for season (TJS)
- Graveman: out for season, and likely 2019 (TJS)
- Gossett: out for season, and likely 2019 (TJS)
Best of luck to all the injured A’s in their recoveries!