The strength of the Oakland A's is in their pitching. They have a very good bullpen that has been fortified in the offseason and it is expected to anchor the team in 2013. But as spring training approaches, the unit with the most room for growth and with the biggest potential to move the A's closer towards a World Series championship is their starting pitching.
Last year, the A's ranked ninth in starter's earned run average (ERA) at 3.80 in spite of many obstacles. The biggest by far was the prolonged absence of staff ace Brett Anderson, who did not return until August 21st. Six total starts from the best starter in the rotation and the 2012 A's still made the playoffs.
How? Because they were bolstered by a poised and talented crop of rookies. Jarrod Parker, Tom Milone, A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily and Travis Blackley helped make last year's A's team the first in Major League history to reach the postseason with more than 70 total starts from rookie pitching (90).
But while they were good, there is reason to believe this year's rotation could be even better. Gone are Tyson Ross and Graham Godfrey, who both struggled mightily in 2012. A full season of Anderson with the experience of 2012 should only serve to benefit the five rookies vying for four rotation spots. And yes, the return of Bartolo Colon should be a benefit in the event there is some recession from the young arms.
So the thinking is the A's starting pitching will be better. The question is, how much so? Well, the answers lie inside. Let's start with the ace of the staff, Brett Anderson.