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Elephant Rumblings: Competition for the A’s fifth rotation spot

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MLB: Oakland Athletics at Minnesota Twins Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, Athletics Nation!

The recent additions of veteran pitchers Alex Wood and Ross Stripling have shaken up the A’s rotation picture, and a fierce competition is shaping up for Spring Training, where several potential starters will vie to fill the number five slot.

Jason Burke at SI.com notes that Paul Blackburn, Wood, Stripling, and JP Sears are the A’s currently projected starters, assuming they are in good health on Opening Day. Burke cites five main contenders to round out the rotation: Luis Medina, Kyle Muller, Mitch Spence, Joe Boyle, and Osvaldo Bido.

Medina and Muller are out of options. Medina has been inconsistent but sometimes brilliant, while Muller has struggled mightily and seems more likely to continue working out of the bullpen. Burke also deems Spence likely to start the season on relief duty. The 25-year-old Rule 5 pick has started nearly every game he’s pitched over the past few seasons, but has yet to make his MLB debut.

Boyle and Bido could be punished, in a sense, by merit of having options. The A’s may elect minor league assignments for this pair while Medina and Muller venture out to sink and swim once and for all and Spence stays in Oakland for purposes of Rule 5 protection.

Burke mentions four other depth pieces that could find their way to the rotation as the season progresses: Joey Estes, Freddy Tarnok, Adrián Martínez, and Hogan Harris.

The overall picture is complicated, and that means that Spring Training performance is highly likely to be a decisive factor in this battle for an Opening Day rotation spot.

Have a wonderful week, AN.

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