As fans of the Oakland A's brace for the first start of unlikely phenom Dan Straily, the fallout of his potential impact could be felt into the month of October.
The man who leads all of baseball with 175 strikeouts in 2012 is, at worst, another option for a team that could honestly use another arm or two.
But before we can get to October, it is very important to establish what is happening in early August. Quite simply, the telltale signs of fatigue are starting to hit the A's rookie starters Jarrod Parker and Tom Milone. Both have been roughed up in their last couple of starts.
Parker, in particular, has been off, with an ERA of 7.36 and WHIP of 1.82 in his last two starts.
Milone has been two different pitchers at home and away from the Coliseum, but its spacious dimensions were no help when he was rocked for five runs in six innings against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Although it is a small sample size, neither pitcher has thrown this many innings on the major league level, and it may be starting to show.
That is where Straily comes in. Considering the way he threw in the minor leagues, he could potentially become an ace.
Possessing four pitches, Straily went 5-2 with a 1.36 ERA in eight starts after his promotion to Triple-A. Although he has a mid-90s fastball, scouts rave about his changeup and slider.
Who is the most important pitcher for the A's down the stretch?
Long story short, as Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson continue to rehab on their way back, the A's get another great young arm that can be used if anyone in the current rotation falters.
Why is that so important? Well, because for all of the improvements the offense has made during this run to the top of the AL wild-card standings, Oakland still ranks no better than 24th in any of the major hitting categories (runs, batting average, slugging percentage, on base percentage).
Long story short, the only way this team makes the playoffs is if the pitching continues to carry the load through the final 57 games of the year.
So, in essence, Straily potentially becomes a powerful domino that re-shifts the A's rotation as they look to ride their Cinderella season into the playoffs.
With Bartolo Colon and A.J. Griffin pitching steadily, there is an opportunity for manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young to possibly lighten the load on the other five arms and let matchups dictate starts.
Straily, McCarthy, Anderson, Parker, Milone and possibly Dallas Braden give the A's an embarrassment of riches. How they are utilized could decide if this team is a nice story, or a potentially historic one.
Note: Today, the A's acquired reliever Pat Neshek from the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations. Neshek's best year was with the Minnesota Twins in 2006, when he posted a 2.19 ERA in 32 appearances.
In addition to Straily, the A's called up catcher Derek Norris and outfielder Michael Taylor, sending pitchers Evan Scribner and Jim Miller to Triple-A Sacramento.