Spring Game #23: Anderson, Montas Shutout Giants, A's Keep Homering

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

What a final tuneup for Brett Anderson. After seeing our default front-of-the-rotation guys struggle in Japan, it was refreshing to see Big Brett (someone get that trending) completely shut our cross-town rivals down. And then Frankie Montas, our presumptive No. 4, coming in to finish the job with ease – that's just icing on the cake.

Here are the final pitching lines.

Anderson: 6 IP, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 3 H, 66 pitches, 47 strikes

Montas: 3 IP, 3 Ks, 2 BB, 0 H, 44 pitches, 28 strikes

Let's start with Anderson. His pitches had nice movement and he was locating them well, but efficiency was his mantra tonight. He averaged just a bit over 10 pitches per inning with his final inning being the longest (just 16 pitches). Had this been a regular season game, he easily could've gone 8 or 9 with the chance to achieve the now-rare complete game shutout. The best part of it was that he continued pitching in the bullpen after he came out of the game just to get his work in. You know you're doing your job right when you still have energy to keep working after you've clocked out.

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Montas, by comparison, looked like a sloth on the mound when, in reality, he was working quick and mowing guys down. He averaged a slightly less terrific 14.7 pitchers per inning and didn't allow any hits. The 28-16 strike-to-ball ratio could improve, but other than the two walks, he looked like a completely different pitcher than we've seen the last two years. His new splitter is a great compliment to his existing high-octane repertoire as it keeps hitters off-balance and renders Montas significantly less hittable. He didn't have pinpoint control of his fastball today, but if he can get a good feel for his setup pitches, he can have the kind of unexpected breakout season the A's will need to get back to October.

It can't be understated how important Anderson and Montas will be to the upcoming season, as their performance will determine whether we need one, two, or three more starting pitchers. If they falter, it'll force the A's to make hasty decisions on Mengden, Bassitt, Brooks, Luzardo, Dunshee, etc. If they succeed, the front office will have the luxury of taking their time in finding their best No. 5 option. Their showings today lend promise towards the latter.

Unfortunately, we didn't get a sight of the A's premier bullpen, but that was part of the plan, as Anderson and Montas had to get their final pre-season workouts in. We should see plenty of them in full gear tomorrow with Liam Hendriks opening the game.

On the hitting side, the A's continued to do what they do. After homering thrice in Game 1 of the 2019 season, the A's did the same today, scoring 5 runs total after Piscotty, Profar, and Laureano launched big ones off Dereck Rodriguez and some guy named Travis Bergen (who apparently has annihilated minor league hitters the past couple years). Piscotty is the only one who homered both games, showing that we have power threats up and down the lineup. It also shows that teams should be afraid of Piscotty, even though I stated in my game preview that they probably won't be.

Profar hit his to deep right-center, but he also had a nice shot off Rodriguez early in the game that went just foul. He has sneaky power that should continue to develop as he begins to tap into the skills that once made him the top prospect in the game. Laureano, who put on some muscle over the offseason (as Glen & Ray noted repeatedly), hit his third homer of the game. After drafting him very late in both of my fantasy leagues, I can attest that he is still very underrated. My bet is he ends up as the A's third best hitter by the end of the season, behind Chapman and Khrush.

The rest of the lineup didn't put much action on, but they strung together some lengthy at-bats and made the Giants' pitchers work much harder than ours, which is always nice to see in Oakland. Even without Matt Olson for two-ish months, the A's should continue to mash and stay near the top of the league's runs leaderboard, in which case the team should stay near the top of the AL West.