Scouting the A's Rotation

C Sven JenkinsContributor IApril 29, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 07:  Trevor Cahill #53 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim oon April 7, 2009 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Since 2005, Billy Beane and his Athletics.html" target="_blank" title="A's">Oakland Athletics have been auctioning off their best pitchers each season in an attemp to stay young, competitive, and fiscally responsible while playing in the monstrosity that is McAfee Coliseum.

So, with the new season and the Athletics’ starting rotation a bigger question mark than ever, I figured I’d take a look and see what they’re working with now.

Trevor Cahill

At 21, he has already been compared to Brandon Webb. Cahill deals the same type of plus-sinker as Webb--an upper-80s pitch that produces tons of groundball outs.

He also uses a 90-mph four-seamer that he tries to spot early in counts to get ahead.  After the fastballs, which he’ll throw the majority of the time, Cahill deals a very soft changeup and two different breaking balls.

His slider has some sweeping action while the curve looks like a plus-pitch, getting good drop at just a few miles per hour slower than the slider.

Unfortunately, Cahill has struggled mightily with his command at the big league level, issuing 15 walks in 20 innings so far. The A’s like to use the excuse that his stuff moves so much, he’s prone to bouts of wildness.

However, all this crazy movement hasn’t produced many missed bats, as he’s notched only seven strikeouts.

Cahill’s knuckle-curve—described as an out pitch by A’s director of player personnel Billy Owens—has been non-existent. I’ve see him use the pitch only a handful of times, and he didn’t throw any breaking balls in his last outing on April 24.

If he can improve his command and mix his pitches better, Cahill could still reach the level expected of him.

Cahill: *sinker (84-89), four-seamer (89-92), changeup (75-78), slider (82-84), curve (77-80)*

Brett Anderson

Like Cahill, Anderson has made the jump from Double-A to the majors in 2009.  He has shown good command at all levels of the minor leagues and continues to throw strikes in the bigs.

Anderson uses a good fastball and has the confidence to command it on the inner half of the plate. He’ll then attack hitters with a sharp slurve that he aims at the back ankle of right-handers and sweeps away from left-handers.

His changeup is fairly standard, but he throws it with the same plus-control as the fastball. Anderson mixes in a slow 12-6 curveball as his fourth pitch, usually in the first pitch of an at-bat.

Because Anderson’s stuff is not dominating, he’s been banged around a bit in the major leagues, allowing four home runs in 18 1/3 innings, while only striking out nine. He seems to know what he’s doing on the mound, which will give him a good chance at success.

However, any loss of velocity would spell his doom.

Anderson: *fastball (87-93), slider (79-85), changeup (79-84), curve (73-77)*

Josh Outman

Of the remaining three starters, only left-hander Outman has impressed me.

He throws hard, dealing a fastball in the low-mid 90s. The fastball is fairly straight, but it sets up his sharp slider well. He's also got a big hook that gets decent 11-5 movement, as well as a straight changeup.

His minor league-walk totals are fairly high, which won’t allow him to pitch deep into ballgames, but Outman might be able to make a successful move to the bullpen, where he could be a weapon.

Outman: *fastball (90-96), slider (81-84), changeup (81-84), curve (75-77)*

Dana Eveland and Dallas Braden

My No. 4 and No. 5 guys in the rotation are similar pitchers. They’re both left-handed, both throw in the mid-upper 80s, and were both drafted out of college. They also both have strange first names that start with "D."

I guess the similarities end there though, since Eveland relies heavily on a good slider to get outs, while Braden relies on his soft changeup.

Eveland: *fastball (87-90), slider (80-84), changeup (82-84), curve (75-78)*

Braden: *fastball (85-91), changeup (71-76), slider (76-83), curve (73-74)*

Unless one or two of these guys steps up bigger than I expect, this rotation isn’t going to be posting very many innings. This will put the A’s bullpen under a ton of stress, making it difficult to compete for the division.

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