The main reason the Eyeball Scout can’t stand the thought of Daulton Jefferies winning the #5 spot in the rotation is the spectre of seeing his names butchered every 5 days.
Did the right-hander acquitted himself well enough Sunday to earn the right to be referred to as Jeffries, Dalton, Geoffries, Daultin, and goodness knows what else?
Whoever wins a spot holding the seat warm for Mike Fiers will actually start the third game of the regular season. In the Houston series Chris Bassitt will be followed by Jesus Luzardo, then the #5 SP and Sean Manaea, with Frankie Montas pushed back a couple of days (to Monday, April 5th) to let his split cuticle heal.
This means that the #5 SP will slot in between Luzardo and Manaea and will face the Astros. In theory, this gives Jefferies two advantages over lefties A.J. Puk and Cole Irvin. A RHP would split up the LHPs on either side, and also the Astros hit LHP much better in 2020.
However, I don’t expect the A’s to make a decision based on handedness. I think they will choose the picture (I said “pitcher,” you silly software) they believe is most ready to take on big league hitters right now. And while Irvin has proven to be the most polished of the three, Jefferies’ superior stuff may well give him the ultimate edge.
What did the Eyeball Scout see on Sunday?
I was mostly very impressed with Jefferies, and actually thought his fastball got on hitters every bit as much as Puk’s did yesterday. Obviously the second inning was a major blip, with an uncharacteristic 3 walks, but throughout most of his appearance Jefferies show the impressive command and was anything but hittable.
The biggest concern I would have is that the 2nd inning jitters, like his first big-league inning, could surface under the pressure i’m facing the Astros in a big league start. In that scenario, one would just hope that the stuff was enough to overcome the nerves — and this was indeed the case Sunday.
I like Jefferies’ fastball a lot. Not only does it have solid velocity, often sitting at 94-95MPH, but from his hand to the catcher’s glove it tunnels like a seed. I have no idea what that means, yet I still think it’s true.
We will not rave about the one he threw at Tommy La Stella’s knee cap. Jefferies is prone to overthrowing, and when he grips the slider too tight it is predictably a disaster. But during his calmer innings, Jefferies as decent breaking stuff and keeps batters off balance.
This is a signature pitch that Jefferies threw with success even when he was up in the zone with it. He has excellent deception, and when he creates the differential that failed him in his big league debut, the changeup can be a wipeout pitch.
With Jefferies, it’s all about harnessing the command that is in fact his calling card. If he can be calm, cool, and collected next Saturday then he is probably the right man for the job.
The only question the A’s probably have right now is whether they think the calm version of Jefferies is ready to show up against the Astros. My personal guess, now, is that the A’s — in part concerned that Irvin’s stuff won’t play in 2 starts against Houston — gamble “yes” and that today’s start proves to be a final tune-up for Oakland’s rotation in early April. But as always, my predictions and $4.50 will get you a latte.