Monday, July 13, 2009

2009 Mid-Term A'ssessment: Starting Rotation

Trevor Cahill: 5-8, 4.67 ERA

What I Said in March: "[Check out] Cahill's decrease in strikeouts per nine innings; increase in walks per nine innings and decrease in K/BB ratio after he was promoted and pitched 37 innings at double-A [in 2008]…he's really not ready yet."

What I Say Now: In 13 of his 18 starts, Cahill has given up three earned runs or less. But, his K/9 (4.3), BB/9 (3.8) and K/BB (1.15) numbers are still a bit troubling. He's a sinkerball specialist who gets KILLED when he can't keep his pitches down (18 home runs allowed) and his "let the hitters hit it" approach hasn't been helped by the A's ambivalent defense.

Mid-Term Grade: C...he was obviously rushed to the bigs, but his
dumpy appearance and lack of mound presence make me wonder if the lumps he's currently taking won't do long-term damage to his development.

Dallas Braden: 7-7, 3.12 ERA

What I Said in March: "Braden finally LOOKS like he belongs in bigs. [He's] potentially a huge fantasy sleeper if he gets decent run support."

What I Say Now: Braden's allowed three earned runs or less in all but one of his 18 starts this season. If you toss out that six run/five inning performance on May 16, his ERA would be 2.76. The A's have scored just 3.6 runs per start for him, though. He's tough as nails and he'd have 10 wins with even an average offense behind him.

Mid-Term Grade: B+...I love this kid. On May 10, he took a first-inning Vernon Wells line drive off his pitching hand, stayed in the game and went six-plus innings. I'm not even going to mark him down for using
this as his theme music.

Brett Anderson: 5-7, 4.86 ERA

What I Said in March: "Singer-songwriter Brett Anderson's reign atop Google search results for "Brett Anderson" will come to an end. Eat it, England!"

What I Say Now: The only thing I'd write differently would be to change "England" to "New England". On July 6, Anderson became the first rookie to
shut out the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park since Jim Abbott in 1989. The home plate umpire had a "pitcher's zone" all night, but if you believe that one start can mark a player's arrival (I don't) then this was it.

Mid-Term Grade: C+...Anderson has looked dominant at times (3-0, 1.86 ERA in three starts from June 20-July 6) and looked like a 21-year-old rookie (6.32 ERA in May) for longer stretches. He threw four more scoreless innings in Tampa Bay yesterday. Five more and then he's arrived.

Josh Outman: 4-1, 3.48 ERA

What I Said in March: "He'll almost certainly start the year in AAA-Sacramento as a shaky insurance policy for Oakland's shaky rotation."

What I Say Now: Justin Duchscherer's injury and Sean Gallagher's ineffective, incompetent healthiness opened the door for Outman to make the Opening Day roster. From May 1 until his elbow exploded on
June 19 (I was at that game!), Outman's ERA was 3.12 with a fastball that hit 95 mph. A rare "miss" in my abbreviated player-projecting career.

Mid-Term Grade: B...Outman was just starting to trust his secondary pitches when his season ended a little less than a month ago. I loved the fact that Outman was – wait for it - outpitching the "can't miss kids" in our rotation and was the polar opposite of everything I hated about Fat Joe Blanton – the guy he was traded for. Hurry back.

Vin Mazzaro: 2-5, 3.59 ERA

What I Said Thought in March: "There's NO way Sean Gallagher doesn't at least last the first half in Oakland's rotation. I think I'll write a post on him instead of Mazzaro."

What I Say Now: Thanks to the A's preseason acquisitions on offense, Oakland has scored 1.77(!) runs in games Mazzaro starts. 1.77 runs! Is the plural of "run" even appropriate here?! Mazzaro, 22, pitches with an uncommon confidence at his age and – even better – he talks like Tony Danza circa the seventh season of Who's the Boss: still stereotypical Italian, but diluted with a decade of speech therapy.

Mid-Term Grade: B...10 years ago, Tim Hudson made his Major League debut. Even though he and Mazzaro are nothing alike physically or stuff-wise, Hudson frakkin' owned the mound and was the unquestioned leader of the A's rotation well into the deca…uhh, until 2004. I'm calling the same path for Mazzaro. Until 2014. Ugh.

And, the Rest: If I never see Sean Gallagher (1-2, 8.16 ERA) or Dana Eveland (1-3, 8.00 ERA) in an A's uniform again it'll be too soon. For those of you scoring at home, we gave up Rich Harden and Dan Haren, respectively, to get 'em. Oh, and we unloaded Nick Swisher for Gio Gonzalez (1-2, 6.29 ERA). Jesus, this is depressing.

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