Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Bartolo Colon became the second Bay Area baseball player in a week to get suspended for 50 games due to elevated levels of testosterone on Wednesday.
Joining the San Francisco Giants' Melky Cabrera, Colon has put his club in a hole down the stretch, one it may not get out of when all is said and done.
Colon was a significant part of a starting rotation that ranks seventh in all of baseball in ERA this season (3.80), despite the losses of Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill in the offseason. He led the team in games started (24), innings pitched (152.1) and wins (10) while posting a 3.43 ERA.
Now, even if the A's make the playoffs, he will still have to serve 10 more games.
Of course, the prospect of the A's making the playoffs now has dimmed.
The good news is Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson are back from injury. The bad news is that McCarthy gave up six runs (including 10 hits) in 3.1 innings to the Minnesota Twins on Monday and there's no telling when Anderson's injury problems will flare up again.
Tyson Ross, who owns a 6.35 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in 62.1 innings this season, will reportedly take Colon's spot in the rotation tomorrow, according to Casey Pratt of CSN Bay Area.
Young right-hander Dan Straily will likely be the plug-in for the A's down the stretch, but he must be in the minors 10 days before getting brought back up (he was sent down to the minors on Monday).
As talented as Straily is, you are asking a rookie to replace a seasoned veteran with your playoff hopes on the line. I will say that it's been remarkable the way the A's have replaced Gonzalez and Cahill this season, but asking a player with 17 innings of big-league experience to fill a gaping hole in the starting rotation is frankly asking too much.
Now, the A's find themselves five games back in the AL West and a half-game back in the Wild Card chase with a mediocre 10-9 record in August.
Compounding the problem is that the A's rank 24th in runs scored this season (496) and have relied on their pitching.
Billy Beane has made a living playing "Money Ball," but this would be a more improbable story than in 2002 if the Athletics were able to turn this around.
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