Jarrod Parker has had a more than OK start to his career as an Oakland A’s starting pitcher after being thrust into the rotation in late April.
The A’s rookie has a 2.86 ERA through 85 innings pitched so far this year and has only had three starts where he’s allowed more than two earned runs and hasn't given up more than two in the rest.
Parker has been solid so far because he’s playing in a spacious ballpark in addition to having the talent that’s expected of a former first-round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007. He’s also with a team that has always given young athletes, especially promising arms, a chance to shine.
What’s the case if he would have stayed pat in Arizona and never been traded to the A’s? What part does Cahill play in the A’s being .500 at the All-Star Break? The A’s have been 7-7 in Parker’s starts, which happens to be Cahill’s current record. Would the case be the same in Oakland for Cahill? Five of the A’s losses with Cahill were with two runs or less.
What role would Parker play for a Diamondbacks team that made the playoffs last year and was expected to compete for the N.L. West crown in 2012? Parker was shoved into the mix late last year in Arizona but I doubt the team would have been comfortable having him start full-time while contending for a playoff spot, a reason they traded for the somewhat-reliable Cahill.
O.co Coliseum has been known as a pitcher’s park because of its spacious dimensions to right and left field and cold weather at night. The dense, cool Bay Area air, which can sometimes have a foggy marine layer rolling in with it, doesn't allow a baseball to travel as well as it could in a warmer climate. That keeps the bigger power numbers down and the pitching statistics up.
Then there’s the fact he’s playing for the A’s, a team that brought up Hudson, Mulder, Zito, Haren, Gonzalez, Cahill, Bailey, Isringhausen and others, turning them into marquee pitchers. Oakland doesn't mind throwing an arm like Parker's into the fire and “feeling him out.” What’s there to lose? It’s not like Parker is another Strasburg. There’s no possible "pitch limit" on Parker. It’s “let loose and see what you have” or you’ll be shipped back to Sacramento, or elsewhere.
Parker’s been given the perfect road to build a great MLB career. It’s not one he may have chosen, but it isn’t one he’ll be voluntarily pulling off of anytime soon.