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Daulton Jefferies will start Saturday against Angels

Top prospect gets a turn in the rotation

Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Earlier this week, Athletics Nation asked a question: Why not start Daulton Jefferies?

The answer is the Oakland A’s are going to do just that.

The rookie Jefferies will start Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels, reports Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle, who adds that fellow rookie James Kaprielian will move to the bullpen.

Jefferies is one of the team’s top pitching prospects, and spent most of the year in Triple-A. He made one start in the majors earlier this year in August, coincidentally also against the Angels, and tossed five solid innings with three runs allowed. The right-hander returned to the bigs in September but has pitched out of the bullpen all month, providing quality long relief.

  • Jefferies, AAA: 4.91 ERA, 77 ip, 68 Ks, 11 BB, 13 HR, 4.98 FIP
  • Jefferies, MLB: 3.60 ERA, 15 ip, 8 Ks, 4 BB, 1 HR, 3.97 FIP

With Jefferies looking good in the pen, and a couple of Oakland’s starters getting knocked around lately, the 26-year-old will get his next chance to step up.

Meanwhile, Kaprielian had a fantastic season in the A’s rotation, making 20 starts beginning in mid-May. In late-August he sported a strong 3.25 ERA, but over his last four outings he began to get hit hard and raised that mark to 4.02, which is still league-average. He didn’t complete five innings in any of his last three games.

More details, via Shayna Rubin of the Mercury News:

The reason for Kaprielian and Jefferies rotation/bullpen switcharoo from Melvin: “In my opinion, (Kaprielian) is a little worn down right now. He’ll never tell you that.”

He added Kaprielian was “all for pitching out of the bullpen.”

The right-hander has thrown 105⅓ innings this season, which almost exactly matches his entire professional career total from six injury-plagued seasons in the minors, so it stands to reason that he’d be running out of gas in September. Between his promising performance and a summer of sustained health, it’ll be exciting to see what he can do in the rotation next year, and for now he’ll get the chance to work some shorter stints out of the bullpen.

  • Kaprielian: 4.02 ERA, 105⅓ ip, 108 Ks, 40 BB, 17 HR, 4.47 FIP, .325 xwOBA

Granted, Jefferies is in similar territory in terms of workload. His 92 innings this year are also a career-high and close to his professional career total, after his own lengthy injury history in the minors. But he appears to be the hotter hand right now, and he’ll get the nod this weekend.

Poll results

In our last post about Jefferies starting, there was a community poll. The results, with 313 votes:

  • 68% — Start Jefferies, put Blackburn in bullpen (213 votes)
  • 30% — Start Jefferies, put Kaprielian in bullpen (94 votes)
  • 2% — Leave Jefferies in bullpen, keep starting Blackburn and Kaprielian (6 votes)

Pretty much everybody wanted to see Jefferies take a turn, though Paul Blackburn was the popular pick to move to the pen. However, since then Blackburn bounced back with another solid five-inning start in an A’s victory on Thursday, and he doesn’t carry the same workload concerns as Kaprielian.