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Oakland A’s recall Daniel Mengden, option J.B. Wendelken

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Mengden fills spot vacated by Frankie Montas suspension.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A’s recalled pitcher Daniel Mengden on Wednesday, the team announced. To make room on the roster, reliever J.B. Wendelken was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas.

The A’s saw a huge hole open in their starting rotation last week when ace Frankie Montas was suspended 80 games for a PED violation. They can’t easily replace the high level of production that Montas was providing, but they did at least need to add a fifth starter to take his spot. For more on the immediate and long-term future of the A’s rotation, here’s my writeup for the S.F. Examiner last weekend.

The initial call goes to Mengden. That’s no surprise, as he’s already pitched five games for Oakland this season and has by far more MLB experience than anyone else on Vegas’ staff right now. Unfortunately he struggled with his control in his previous stint in the bigs this year, leading to a high walk rate and an inability to efficiently work deep into games, and his shaky results are one reason he was back toiling in the minors.

Mengden, 2019 MLB: 5.09 ERA, 23 ip, 19 Ks, 15 BB, 1 HR, 4.05 FIP

On the bright side, the right-hander has shown flashes of potential over the last few years. He tossed a shutout in 2017 and another one last summer, and toward the end of May 2018 he was looking like the best starter in Oakland’s rotation. The key has been maintaining that success over long stretches of time, which he has yet been unable to do. For what it’s worth, though, he’s looked sharp in a Triple-A environment that has been eating many other Las Vegas pitchers alive:

Mengden, 2019 AAA: 3.47 ERA, 49⅓ ip, 50 Ks, 16 BB, 5 HR, 4.05 FIP

In the past Mengden has sometimes been used as a bulk reliever behind a bullpen opener, including his last two outings in Oakland before being sent down in early June. It’s unclear if that will be the setup again as the year goes on, though for the moment the official literature all has him listed as the outright starter for Wednesday. Furthermore, the team’s usual opener, Liam Hendriks, is currently covering the closer role while Blake Treinen is on the injured list.

Meanwhile, the odd man out for now is Wendelken. The right-hander was an emergency callup on Friday when Montas got popped, and he made it into two games since then. On Tuesday, he earned his first career win in the majors, after entering in the 4th inning to bail the starter out of a jam. That accomplishment earned him a beer shower in the clubhouse, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle.

Wendelken, 2019 MLB: 4.94 ERA, 23⅔ ip, 24 Ks, 7 BB, 2 HR, 3.27 FIP

The A’s were holding an extra ninth reliever until they called up a fifth starter, so even without Wendelken there are still eight arms in the pen. Down in Triple-A, Wendelken joins Ryan Dull as taxi squad relief options who are already on the 40-man roster.

Updated roster:

Oakland A's 25-man roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Mike Fiers (R)
Brett Anderson (L)
Chris Bassitt (R)
Tanner Anderson (R)
Daniel Mengden (R)

Relievers

Liam Hendriks (R)
Lou Trivino (R)
Joakim Soria (R)
Ryan Buchter (L)
Yusmeiro Petit (R)
Wei-Chung Wang (L)
Brian Schlitter (R)
Aaron Brooks (R)
Catchers

Josh Phegley (R)
Beau Taylor (L)

Infielders

Matt Olson (L)
Jurickson Profar (S)
Marcus Semien (R)
Matt Chapman (R)

Outfielders

Khris Davis (R)
Stephen Piscotty (R)
Ramon Laureano (R)
Robbie Grossman (S)
Chad Pinder (R)
Mark Canha (R)

10-day IL: RHP Marco Estrada (back), RHP Blake Treinen (shoulder), C Nick Hundley (back)

60-day IL: RHP Jharel Cotton (TJS), RHP Daniel Gossett (TJS), LHP Sean Manaea (shoulder), C Chris Herrmann (knee)