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Oakland A’s fans still not confident in rotation even before Frankie Montas suspension

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However, impact help might finally be on the way.

Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Welcome to SB Nation FanPulse, a survey of fans across MLB. Each week, we send 30 polls to plugged in fans from each team. A’s fans, click HERE to learn more and join FanPulse.

A’s fans were asked this week if they have confidence in the team’s starting rotation, and the result was not positive. It’s the third time we’ve asked about the starters this year, and this time 21% of fans answered Yes to the question, “Are you confident that the A’s can contend with their current starting rotation?”

Back in late April, only 5% of fans answered Yes to the same query, and then in mid-May the approval rating rose to 33% of fans. Now it’s dropped back down a bit, and that was before the recent bad new that befell the group.

I was preparing to write a story completely disagreeing with the drop in approval. After all, most of the rotation had been doing pretty well over the last month, and it was the one area of the roster that was offering any reliability. The bullpen has blown saves left and right, and the offense has come and gone in spurts, but the rotation has consistently kept the team in the game.

But then, Friday brought news that ace Frankie Montas had been popped for PEDs, effectively ending his season with a long suspension and costing him a likely All-Star bid. Now the wind is kind of knocked out of my sails in terms of arguing why the rotation is being severely underrated.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot to like. Mike Fiers is on, well, fire, and Brett Anderson has been quietly piling up quality starts, at least until getting blown up on Sunday against the Rays. Chris Bassitt’s control has been shaky lately, but he can dominate on a given night when he’s finding the plate. We also get to see if guys like Tanner Anderson and Daniel Mengden can answer the “next man up” call.

But the real good news comes a little farther down the road. Jesus Luzardo hopefully arrives in July, and Sean Manaea is on the way too, though he’s hit a brief setback due to his oblique. And how “A’s” would it be for Marco Estrada to come back and lay down a bunch of awesome starts out of nowhere? Here’s my in-depth look at the rotation’s future at the S.F. Examiner.

We’ll ask this question again in a month, and it will be interesting to see who is in the rotation at that point, how they’re doing, and whether anyone is able to fill Montas’ big shoes.

As for the normal weekly questions about the A’s, here are the latest results.

  • Confidence in direction of team: 67% (down from 72%)
  • Confidence in manager: 87% (up from 82%)

At the time of the survey, the A’s were coming off a series win in Tampa Bay, and then a series loss at home against the Mariners. That Seattle series brought the bummer of a blown save loss in the finale, costing them the chance to take care of business against a team that has already given up and begun trading away its veterans. In the time since the survey, the A’s won five of their seven games this week against the Orioles and Rays.

Interestingly, the manager approval went up while the team confidence went down. The bullpen has struggled mightily, but at some point there’s not a lot Bob Melvin can do if all of his top arms are either slumping or hurt.

Among other teams, only Astros fans have 100% team confidence, with the Brewers (98%), Twins (97%), and Rays (96%) next on the list. The Pirates bring up the rear at 8%, after being shut out at 0% the previous week. The Phillies plummeted from 92% to 18% this week, after losing 5-of-6 games, and they then proceeded to lose the next five after that survey. The Mets were at 12% before today’s clubhouse brouhaha.

There was also a national question, asking where MLB should expand to next. The winner was Montreal.

The tallies shook out like this:

  • Montreal: 31%
  • Nashville: 20%
  • Las Vegas: 19%
  • Portland: 19%
  • Charlotte: 12%

However, don’t expect the Rays to be the team playing any games in Montreal.