Jarrod Parker Returns To Dominant Form For Oakland Athletics

By Thom Tsang
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at his 4.27/1.27 ERA/WHIP and 0.1 fWAR through 97 IP over the 2013 season thus far, you wouldn’t necessarily think of the Jarrod Parker as arguably the best pitcher on the Oakland Athletics staff.

In fact, considering how well Bartolo Colon, A.J. Griffin and Tommy Milone has done over the season, you might even say that the 24-year-old sophomore is actually lagging behind his fellow hurlers, let alone being the expectant leader after a very strong 3.5 fWAR showing as a rookie in 2012.

All that tells you, however, is just how bad he was in his first seven starts.

Carrying a 7.34/1.98 WHIP through his first 34.1 innings of work, you could have made a pretty compelling argument for the Athletics to perhaps even consider demoting the right-hander, as he was not only the worst starter on the team, but in the league.

That, however, has provided the unexpected effect of veiling his recovery, and if you’ve watched Parker at all over the last two months, you’ll already know that the 4.27/1.27 ERA/WHIP is really more of a testament of how well he’s bounced back rather than an indictment of his overall abilities.

And just how good has he been? Well, since his 5.0-IP, seven-hit, four-run outing on May 6, he hasn’t been what you’d call bad … not even once.

That’s nine straight quality turns, with the youngster throwing seven complete in at seven of them, and a 5-1 record to show for his excellence. He’d already recovered well in May even with his inauspicious first start, posting a 3.62/1.08 ERA along with a .216 BAA over 32.1 innings, but he’s taken it to a whole new level in June with a 2.29/0.82 ERA/WHIP and a .171 BAA.

If you’re still keeping count, yes, that makes him the most unhittable pitcher for the A’s this month, and he’s really shown no signs of slowing down.

One of the biggest adjustments that Parker has made to return to his form has been in the control department, with his walk rate going from an unsightly 4.91 BB/9 in April to 2.78 in May, all the way to a very manageable  2.29 in June.

Now he’s not exactly what you’d call a control freak (has allowed at least a walk in each start), but combined with his ability to induce pop-ups at (season high 11.1 percent in June) and a little help from the baseball gods (season-low .170 BABIP), it’s easy to see why he’s achieved the success that he’s seen despite the disastrous start to the year.

And while it likely won’t be enough to get him to the All-Star game, that doesn’t mean the A’s young ace hasn’t pitched like he belongs there for a majority of the 2013 season.

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