What has been the strength of the Oakland A's team—starting pitching—has been bitten by the injury bug once again.
Less than a week after announcing starting pitcher Dallas Braden will be out the rest of the season, the pitching depth of the A's farm system will be tested with the loss of their fourth and fifth starters—Brandon McCarthy and Tyson Ross—to the 15-day DL.
Ross left his last start on Wednesday with a strained oblique muscle, while the A's announced out of nowhere that McCarthy has a problem with his right scapula, the same shoulder that has plagued McCarthy throughout his career.
The three pitchers added to the roster today (Trystan Magnuson was sent down as well)—Joey Devine, Jerry Blevins and Fautino De Los Santos—will all contribute out of the bullpen. By sheer luck, the A's top-three starters are scheduled to go this weekend against the Giants.
Come Monday, the A's will need to add two starters to the rotation.
Stating the obvious, A's assistant general manager David Forst told John Shea of The San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday he doesn't know that teams are willing to trade quality starting pitchers at this stage of the season.
In other words, the A's have no choice but to look for internal options.
Josh Outman, who battled for a starting gig in the spring, is the logical choice for one of these two temporary rotation spots, and almost certainly will get the call on Tuesday against the Angels. He is a left-hander who throws hard and posts a 3.77 ERA and1.29 WHIP in 16 career starts. His undesirable numbers this spring and in Triple-A have been attributed to his lack of mechanics and consistency from missing so much time last year recovering from Tommy John surgery.
What should the A's do if either Ross or McCarthy are out for an extended period of time?
The other spot is less certain because there are no proven options in Triple-A Sacramento.
Graham Godfrey, who was drafted in the 34th round by the Blue Jays in 2006 and acquired by the A's in 2007 in the Marco Scutaro deal, has the best numbers among Triple-A starters. In six starts, he has pitched 33 innings, posted a 2.41 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 31 Ks and a .220 batting-average against.
Guillermo Moscoso has posted good numbers also (40 innings, 43 Ks and .231 batting-average against) but is a career journeyman.
Since these DL stints may not be for very long, the A's may be content with promoting these non-prospects up to the big leagues, especially considering that much of the A's better pitching prospects are not big-league-ready.