Back from a nearly two-week vacation hiatus, I'd like to take a look at some pitchers in the Oakland A's organization who are in the running for September callups.
So I'll look at a few different guys and analyze: first, if they should get called up, and second, if it's likely they will.
Later on, in another article, I'll look at position players.
Since his early season demotion, Eveland has done little to inspire confidence at Triple-A, pitching adequately at best in the River Cats' rotation and getting hammered in his one major league start.
Eveland's one benefit is that he's a proven decent pitcher in the majors, so he's got a decent track record. That track record likely lands him in the majors in September. While he's not likely to pitch well, he'll keep the young arms fresh and healthy by soaking up some innings, and there's nothing wrong with that.
A former independent leaguer, Benacka was signed late last year at age 26, and has dominated the minors since. He was recently promoted to Triple-A, and has K'd nine batters in just four innings there.
A deceptive pitcher with a plus-plus changeup, the 27-year-old righty misses plenty of bats and hasn't allowed a homer in 69 innings across two levels this year, despite pitching in hitter's leagues. He's a very intriguing player and deserves a chance soon. However, Benacka's not on the 40-man and only has four innings of AAA experience, so seeing him get the call would be surprising.
Those who think Eveland is out of shape (as he clearly is in the picture) should take a look at Kilby, who makes Eveland look like a jeans model.
Despite the poor conditioning, Kilby has a nice fastball-slider combo that has led to 67 K's in 59 Triple-A innings this year. He sports a 1.98 ERA as well, and has strong peripherals to back it up.
Like Benacka, Kilby deserves the callup, but isn't on the 40-man roster. However, his greater experience makes him a better bet than Benacka. I'd say Kilby's got a 50-50 shot at wearing the green and gold this year, although he really deserves to now (at Jay Marshall's expense).
Blevins' velocity was down about three mph on all his pitches this spring, and he hasn't gotten it back. Like Eveland, he's been something less than a disaster in Sacramento, but he hasn't really excelled either.
Like Eveland, Blevins has a 40-man spot, drastically increasing his chances of making it back to Oakland. Personally, I'd rather see Kilby.
Rodriguez's triple-digit velocity has led to a whopping 61 K's in just 36 2/3 innings, but his command—always a weak point—is a big problem, as he's walked 33. His 6.14 ERA overstates his struggles, however, as he's just had some bad luck stranding runners.
Rodriguez is an interesting candidate for a burst-onto-the-scene September, a la Bobby Jenks or Francisco Rodriguez, and he is on the 40-man, but I'd rather see someone like Benacka up. Rodriguez has all kinds of time to work on his command—which is a big weak point—whereas Benacka, at 27, is running out of time to make the majors.
Putting Rodriguez up would be an interesting move, but I'm on the fence as to whether it will happen. If he wasn't on the 40-man, there's no way he'd get called up, but since he is, the chance is definitely there.
Another adequate pitcher in Triple-A, Reineke's only hope for MLB success is a move to the bullpen, a move that he hasn't been asked to make in the Oakland organization. Like Eveland, he's not terrible, but he's not someone you really want pitching in any meaningful major league games or situations.
Reineke is on the 40-man, and like Eveland, it can't hurt to have him throw 10 September innings to help rest Brett Anderson's arm. That doesn't mean he really belongs in the majors, however.
Mortensen has distinguished himself a bit better than Eveland, Blevins, or Reineke, but not to the point where he's an obvious major leaguer. He does have youth and 40-man status on his side, however.
I think he's a pretty safe bet for a September look, and there's no reason why he shouldn't get one.
Something of a favorite of mine, Simmons and his 5.10 ERA may scream "not ready," but he's actually pretty close to being a major league fourth starter.
A flyball pitcher with strong command, Simmons would take well to Oakland. The ERA is mainly the product of a .325 BABIP (elevated, especially for a flyballer) and 64.3 percent strand rate (easily a career low, and bad luck). His FIP is a nice 3.97.
Simmons, however, is not on the 40-man roster, and the A's likely won't want to start his service time clock early, so he'll probably stay down. I understand that logic, and it's fair enough, but I do think Simmons could pitch decently now if given the chance.
A former Washington National who put up some nice K/9 numbers in D.C., Schroder has seen his performance head south in his first year in the A's organization. With a nearly even (37/31) K/BB ratio in 46 2/3 innings, the slider specialist hasn't merited time in the big leagues.
Schroder was dropped off the 40-man earlier this year, and it's unlikely the A's would clear space for him to come back up. He doesn't deserve to come back up anyway.