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Elephant Rumblings: A’s planning to go with more openers going forward

MLB news roundup

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thursday, all. The week is almost over.

Yesterday we heard that due to the starting rotation’s struggles, the coaching staff would begin trying something new:

Moving to an opener model can’t make anything worse. Last night was the first time the A’s had done it this season as Austin Pruitt handled the first inning and Ken Waldichuk came on for bulk duties. It didn’t end up being a great night for Waldichuk but it sounds as if the A’s are going to commit to this for the foreseeable future, regardless of results.

The immediate thought would be the young lefties Waldichuk, Sears, and Muller. All three started the season in the rotation but have mostly struggled, save for a nice start here and there. Waldichuk and Muller in particular have been hit around hard and often. You can probably assume an opener for those two moving forward (and when Muller is recalled).

As for Sears, he’s had back-to-back starts where he’s pitched into the sixth inning and generally hasn’t been nearly as bad as the other two. He might have gotten himself out of that opener-needy group with this recent run. Same goes for the right-handed Luis Medina, who’s had three straight starts getting to the sixth inning.

But what about someone like James Kaprielian? He’s already been sent down to the minors and demoted to the bullpen, all within the same month. And yet here we are again and Kap has actually tossed two solid games since his recall from Triple-A. Did he figure something out in those three weeks he was down there? And are those two starts going to keep Mark Kotsay from deciding to use an opener for him?

And we haven’t even gotten to the injured Drew Rucinski or Paul Blackburn yet. Rucinski does have some MLB games under his belt this year and it hasn’t been great. If Kotsay is serious about including more openers moving forward, Rucinski might be a candidate for one based on the injuries and performance combo.

Blackburn, on the other hand, might get the benefit of the doubt in the early going. The righty is coming off different injuries and still hasn’t made an appearance this year, but he is coming off an All-Star season last year. Whenever he’s ready, and it should be soon, Blackburn should slide right into a starting role. The team can’t have an opener everyday, right? Right?

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