A.J. Griffin Gets Oakland Athletics' Starting Rotation Off To Good Start

By Thom Tsang
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Athletics‘ projected starting pitchers have been just about sterling so far this spring.

Well, at least the one of them who’s made an appearance in a Cactus League game anyway. It was No. 5 starter A.J. Griffin whogot the chance to represent the team’s starting rotation on Wednesday, and let’s just say that if the rest of the guys in the rotation are going to be better, the A’s pitching is going to be in pretty good shape.

Griffin was excellent in his first bit of real work this spring, making the start against the regular Arizona Diamondbacks lineup and retiring his first three batters easily, with the latter two – Martin Prado and Aaron Hill – being caught looking at strike three.

The righty tallied one more swinging strikeout against cleanup hitter Jason Kubel for good measure and ended his two innings of work with the only blemish being a double given up to Paul Goldschmidt.

That’s not a bad day of work, considering that he was coming in against the Diamondbacks’ top six batters.

The 25-year-old Griffin was something of a revelation for the Athletics in 2012. A soft-tosser who had never really gotten the kind of attention in the system that guys like Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill did, Griffin was called up to the bigs in June of last year because of his level of polish at the AAA level.

A soft-tosser who relies on location to be effective, Griffin found a second gear in 2012, posting a very good 5.06 K/BB through 102.0 minor league innings across two levels. Although he’d only had 64.2 innings of work in AAA to that point, his advanced control was well-regarded enough by the team as something translatable skill in the majors.

It was, as Griffin walked batters of a rate of just 2.08 BB/9, good for a 3.37 K/BB, and he made 15 starts over 82.1 inning with a clean 3.06/1.13 WHIP.

That’s the reason why he went into spring training in 2013 with an inside track on the final spot of the rotation.

He’ll be pushed by Dan Straily, who will fill in for the suspended Bartolo Colon at the start of the season, as well as Andrew Werner. But if Griffin is already in the kind of form where he’s posting three-strikeout outings against the Diamondbacks’ best, it’s pretty safe to say that he won’t have much to worry about.

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