With the American League West bunched together with three potential playoff teams, all three contenders made a big pitching move in the past week.
The surprising Oakland Athletics did not make a big trade. But, they are adding to their 25-man roster a 6'2" right-handed pitcher who has struck out 175 batters in 138 1/3 innings. He has thrown a 2.60 ERA including a 1.36 clip over his last 53 innings. According to Baseball Reference, his WHIP is under 1.000 and strikes out 4.73 for each walk.
And he is not costing Oakland a single prospect. That is because he is a prospect.
23-year-old Daniel Straily leads all of baseball in strikeouts. And the A's phenom has been promoted to the majors from Triple-A Sacramento, according to San Francisco Chronicle reporter Susan Slusser.
Straily joins an already young Oakland staff. Twenty-five-year-old Tommy Milone and 23-year-old Jarrod Parker were prize pickups in the offseason moves involving Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill. Twenty-four-year-old A. J. Griffin has pitched well in his first seven games in the majors.
Twenty-nine-year-old Travis Blackley looks like an elder statesman among the rotation. Thirty-nine-year-old Bartolo Colon must feel like a grandfather.
According to SFGate.com, Brett Anderson wonders half jokingly if he and fellow injured starter Brandon McCarthy will even have a roster spot when they are healthy again.
There is an interesting element to Straily's success this season, however, which makes him more intriguing for a playoff contender like the Athletics.
This is not the story of a first-round phenom coming into his own. Straily was a 24th-round draft pick. That is not 24th overall, that is the round. Seven hundred twenty-two players were selected ahead of him. Considered by experts like John Sickels as a sleeper prospect at best, something clicked this year with the Oregon native.
The ERA dropped, the strikeouts spiked and he took the fast track from Double-A to the majors.
Perhaps he is truly a diamond in the rough and Oakland's deep farm system produced a big leaguer 24 rounds into a draft.
Or maybe he is a talented pitcher that scouts have not figured out yet. Maybe he will have hitters baffled until they make an adjustment and tee off on him.
If he is the latter, then the A's are making a smart decision. If they are going to cash in on the "We have no scouting report to counteract his pitches" portion of his career, why not do it in the major leagues.
Besides, there is no lock that Greinke nor Dempster will pan out for the Angels and Rangers. The A's move could wind up baffling hitters and no prospects would be lost.
That's truly the Oakland way.