By Spencer Impellizzeri @Spence_I on April 21, 2014
The Oakland Athletics lost starters Bartolo Colon and Jarrod Parker, as well as closer Grant Balfour off last year's team, but that hasn't fazed them as they have went with the "next man up" strategy and currently sit in first place in the AL West. The A's became famous for Billy Beane and his Moneyball strategy, and he is proving once again that it works. Here are the early grades for the starting rotation and the bullpen.
Sonny Gray was forced to step up as the A's No. 1 starter and he hasn't missed a beat. Gray has gone 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA on the season, going at least six innings in every start. At just 24 years old in his first full season, in the big leagues, Gray looks to be an ace that the A's can build around for the future.
Scott Kazmir is making the most of his second chance in MLB. Kazmir has started off the season on a great note, going 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA while holding batters to a .173 BAA. Kazmir is on pace to have the best season of his career and is finally living up to the potential he showed early in his career.
After starting just two games in his 10-year big league career entering the season, Chavez was thrust into the starting rotation after an injury to A.J. Griffin and has excelled. In his four starts, Chavez is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA. Chavez has been key to the early success of the A's, helping to replace the lost production of Parker and Griffin in the rotation. Chavez looks to be a mainstay in the rotation moving forward.
One bad start has inflated Straily's early numbers, as he gave up six runs in 3.2 innings of work in his most recent start. Straily is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA, but is holding hitters to a .226 batting average and has a 3.75 K:BB ratio. Despite the ERA, Straily has pitched well and should be fine moving forward.
Through his first two starts of the season, Tom Milone has been inconsistent. At 0-1 with a 4.06 ERA, Milone should be somewhere around his career averages of 14-10 with a 3.92 ERA at year's end.
Despite Jim Johnson's struggles as the closer, the Oakland Athletics' bullpen has done a great job on the season. Luke Gregerson and Sean Doolittle have held down the closer's job, Ryan Cook has returned from injury, posting a 2.08 ERA, Drew Pomeranz has excelled in his long relief role and Fernando Abad has yet to allow a run through 7.1 innings pitched. The A's bullpen looks to be a team strength moving forward.
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