If you weren't familiar with the 2010 Oakland Athletics pitching staff you would probably think that they would be hurt by losing starters Ben Sheets and Justin Duchscherer to season ending injuries.
The A's 2010 rotation, led by first time All-Star Trevor Cahill, was the league's best rotation in 2010 with an American League best 3.56 ERA, yielding the fewest runs (626), fewest earned runs (566), fewest hits (1315) and fewest total bases allowed (2040).
The A's traded their number five starter, Vin Mazzaro, to Kansas City for David DeJesus, but they bring back Brett Anderson (2.80 ERA), Gio Gonzalez (3.23 ERA) and Dallas Braden (3.50 ERA) to backup Cahill (2.97 ERA) in the rotation.
The fifth starter role will be decided in spring training with the main candidates being Rich Harden, Brandon McCarthy and Josh Outman. Since Harden has already suffered a setback and will sit out the next two weeks, and Outman has reportedly looked very solid in early bullpen sessions, we'll go with the assumption for now that Outman will start the season as the fifth starter. Outman impressed in 2009 before needing season ending Tommy John surgery. He sat out all last season, but is healthy now and ready to return to the A's rotation (or at worst long relief out of the bullpen).
The A's rotation is the youngest in the American League, with Dallas Braden the eldest member at 27-years old entering the season. Despite their youth, there is no reason to assume the A's won't repeat their impressive pitching from 2010 this season. Based on xFIP, a fielding-independent stat that evaluates pitchers based on walk, strikeout and grounder rates, had all four returning starters at 4.33 or below, so they don't appear to be succeeding on luck.
The A's also have depth at the starting pitching position with Rich Harden, Brandon McCarthy, Tyson Ross, Bobby Cramer, and upcoming prospects ready to step in should one of the starters get injured (always a concern with Oakland).
The 2011 Oakland Athletics having nothing standing in their way of repeating as 2011's best American League pitching rotation.
|2011 Projected Rotation || || || ||
|Trevor Cahill ||18-8 ||2.97 ERA ||118 K ||63 BB ||1.108 WHIP ||- In 2010
|Brett Anderson ||7-6 ||2.80 ERA ||75 K ||22 BB ||1.193 WHIP ||- In 2010
|Gio Gonzalez ||15-9 ||3.23 ERA ||171 K ||92 BB ||1.311 WHIP ||- In 2010
|Dallas Braden ||11-14 ||3.50 ERA ||113 K ||43 BB ||1.157 WHIP ||- In 2010
|Josh Outman ||4-1 ||3.48 ERA ||53 K ||25 BB ||1.158 WHIP ||- In 2009