During the off-season the Oakland Athletics rebuilt their bullpen to look very similar to that of the Kansas City Royals. They also rebuilt their starting rotation to look more similar to that of the Royals. Maybe the second idea wasn’t as good as the first. In an unusual twist of fate the biggest weakness for the Athletics in the first half of the 2016 season has been their starting pitching.
In the first half of the season the Athletics have had an ERA of 5.00 from their starting pitching, good for third worst in the American League. In all fairness to the Athletics their ace, Sonny Gray, and top free agent acquisition, Rich Hill, have both spent time on the disabled list. Kendall Graveman is the only pitcher to have made every start this season. Eric Surkamp was so bad that he made nine starts for the Athletics and then was promptly shipped out to the Texas Rangers’ Triple A team. He wasn’t even good enough to stick around the Athletics’ organization. Gray and top pitching prospect Sean Manaea both have ERAs over 5.00, so the problem isn’t solved with the departure of Surkamp.
The Athletics have the second highest WHIP in the AL. They also rank third in starting pitching batting average. They have gotten the fourth fewest strikeouts as well, while allowing the third most walks in the AL. This is a team in danger. They have a few young pitchers, but they are built to win more now than any Athletics’ team in the last seven years.
The Athletics need to get ready for 2017. That means trading Josh Reddick and Hill for whatever they can get. With a little health and luck, the Athletics can go back to winning by using pitching and OBP next season.