Oakland Athletics: Starting Rotation Predictions for 2013
Going into the 2012 season, it was thought that the Oakland A's pitching staff would take a hard hit with the trades of Trevor Cahill to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Andrew Bailey to the Boston Red Sox and Gio Gonzalez to the Washington Nationals.
However, as the 2012 season ran on and pitchers went down with injuries or suspensions, the A's showed that they had a deep pool of pitching talent in the organization.
The A's pitching staff has undergone more changes this year, with Brandon McCarthy departing via free agency and trades involving pitching prospects A.J. Cole and Brad Peacock, among others.
Going into the 2013 season, here is a look at how the starting rotation could look for the defending division champions.
1. Brett Anderson
The A's longest-tenured starting pitcher at the major league level is Brett Anderson, and he will likely be called upon to be the opening day starter.
Anderson was relied on heavily to help the A's down the stretch in the pennant race in 2012. Even though he only started seven games (counting the playoffs), each of those games could be considered must-wins, as the A's were fighting to catch the Texas Rangers in the standings.
Anderson has had injury problems in the past, as he had just come off Tommy John surgery when the A's called on him late last year. And he also hurt his oblique late in that same year.
He returned from his oblique injury to pitch six innings in a must-win elimination game against the Detroit Tigers during the ALDS.
When healthy, Anderson is the A's most reliable pitcher, and he should be the starter on April 1 against the Seattle Mariners.
2. Jarrod Parker
Parker had a breakout year in 2012, finishing the regular season with 13 wins to tie for the franchise record for wins by a rookie pitcher.
Before the A's acquired Parker in the Cahill trade from Arizona, the Diamondbacks selected Parker with the ninth overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft.
To be drafted that high, you know that the kid has to have extraordinary talent. And he displayed some of what he can do in 2012.
Another little-known fact about Parker is that, behind the talents of Mike Trout, Yoenis Cespedes, Yu Darvish and Wei-Yen Chen, Parker finished in fifth place in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
Parker should build on his strong rookie season and pitch right behind Anderson in the A's rotation for the 2013 season.
3. A.J. Griffin
As good as Parker was in his first significant amount of playing time in the majors, Griffin had to be just as impressive.
Griffin was a summer call-up, and he was a part of the A's showcase of tremendous pitching depth in the organization. He may have even matched or gone beyond Parker's record-tying 13 wins for a rookie had he been in the majors for the length of the season.
Griffin had a stellar campaign nonetheless, going 7-1 with a 3.06 ERA in the regular season. He should build on that season with an even stronger 2013 as a member of the starting rotation for the full season.
As long as he doesn't have many poor outings in the Cactus League, he has the potential to be the A's third pitcher in 2013.
4. Tommy Milone
Some of you may be surprised to see Tommy Milone this far down the in the rotation after he also tied the A's rookie record for wins in a season at 13.
Milone being placed in the fourth spot is not a knock on him and his 3.74 ERA in 2012. It is simply a credit to the A's talent and depth of starting pitchers.
Some lists may have him as a No. 2- or No. 3-ranked pitcher, but I personally have to put him behind the impressive Parker and Griffin.
Milone could certainly move up if he were to thrive and Griffin were to struggle in the spring, but I don't see Milone outplaying Parker or Anderson anytime soon.
5. Bartolo Colon
Colon was having a great season by all standards in 2012 after the A's signed him to a cheap, one-year contract. Then he was suspended for using PEDs.
Colon looked like his former Cy Young self, as he had a dominant fastball and, at one point, threw 38 consecutive strikes in a game.
After being suspended for what would become the remainder of the season, with more time still to serve on that suspension, Colon will have to work his way back up to where he once was in the rotation.
Because of the amount of time he has missed and questions about how strong his fastball will be after the PED suspension, Colon will be at the bottom of the A's rotation entering 2013.
Next Man Up: Dan Straily
Straily will likely get to start in place of the suspended Colon in the first week of the season. What happens after Colon is reinstated is another story, however.
It's possible that Colon is put in the bullpen, but with the depth the A's have gained in their bullpen, it is unlikely that they are saving a seat for Colon.
Straily had an impressive call-up in the summer, and while at Triple-A Sacramento, he was leading all of baseball in strikeouts.
If Colon struggles to return to his pre-suspension form, or if any of the other starters are injured during the season or a spot-start is needed, Straily should be the first option for the A's.
Especially after A.J. Cole and Brad Peacock were traded, Straily is the A's top pitcher in the minors.