The A’s starting rotation will likely be very young as only one projected starter (Justin Duchscherer-30) is over 30 years old. That means there will likely be a lot of growing pains. 27-year old righty Joe Blanton will likely be the team’s ace as long as he isn’t traded. He started 34 games for the A’s last season and he was 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. He should have won more games last season but the A’s offense was horrible. The A’s would be smart to keep Blanton the whole season as he is a workhorse who will give them a lot of innings.
26-year old righty Rich Harden is penciled in as the #2 starter right now but a lot of teams have been scouting him this spring. He pitched in 7 games (4 starts) for the A’s last season and he was 1-2 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. Harden is starting to look more and more like Kerry Wood and Mark Prior with every season he can’t stay healthy. Harden is good when he pitches as he has pitched in 84 games (76 starts) in his 5-year major league career and he is 31-18 with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. The smart thing might be to convert Harden into a reliever like the Cubs are doing with Kerry Wood but they don’t have that luxury with the rotation in as bad a shape as it is now.
25-year old righty Chad Gaudin had a decent season in his first as a full-time starter for the A’s last season. He started 34 games last season and he was 11-13 with a 4.42 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP. Gaudin has to throw more strikes as he walked 100 batters in 199.1 innings last season and that often leads to big-time trouble.
30-year old righty Justin Duchscherer is converting back into a starting pitcher this season for the A’s. He pitched in 17 games (0 starts) for the A’s last season and he was 3-3 with a 4.96 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP. Duchscherer has now pitched in 197 games (5 starts) in his major league career and he is 21-16 with 14 saves, a 3.44 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. I have my doubts that he will have success as a starter as his stuff isn’t good enough to get batters out 2-3 times per game and that’s the reason he was converted from starter to reliever in the first place.
24-year old lefty Dana Eveland appears to have won the #5 starting job over Lenny DiNardo. Eveland pitched in 5 games (1 start) for the Diamondbacks last season and he was 1-0 with a 14.40 ERA and a 2.60 WHIP. Eveland did pitch well in the minors last season. He pitched in 9 games (7 starts) last season in A+AAA ball and he was 1-0 with a 1.65 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. Look for DiNardo to get his job back in the rotation soon as Eveland just isn’t that good.
28-year old lefty Lenny DiNardo will start this season in the bullpen but he’s likely to be back in the starting rotation at some point. He pitched in 35 games (20 starts) last season for the A’s and he was 8-10 with a 4.11 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. He pitched much better than anyone thought he could last season.
22-year old lefty Gio Gonzalez was the prize in the Nick Swisher trade and he could make his major league debut at some point this season. Gonzalez started 22 games in AA last season and he was 9-7 with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. He only allowed 116 hits and whiffed 185 batters in only 150 innings last season.
24-year old lefty starter Greg Smith almost won a job in the A’s starting rotation in spring training. He will likely get a quick call to the majors if any A’s get injured. He started 22 games in AA+AAA ball last season and he was 9-5 with a 3.54 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.
The A’s have brought back Kirk Saarloos. The 29-year old righty pitched in 34 games (3 starts) for the Reds last season and he was 1-5 with a 7.17 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP. If the A’s need him this season they are in big, big trouble.
24-year old lefty Dallas Braden just doesn’t appear to have the stuff to succeed in the major leagues. He pitched in 20 games (14 starts) for the A’s last season and he was 1-8 with a 6.72 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP. He also started 13 games in AA+AAA ball last season and he was 3-3 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. He also whiffed 87 batters in 76 innings in the minors. He appears to be a famous AAAA pitcher, too good for AAA but not good enough for the majors.
26-year old lefty Dan Meyer also will get a chance at some point this season. He has been a huge disappointment since being acquired in the Tim Hudson trade from Atlanta. He pitched in 6 games (3 starts) for the A’s last season and he was 0-2 with a 8.82 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP. He also started 22 games in AA+AAA ball last season and he was 8-2 with a 3.39 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. Don’t expect miracles out of him in 2008.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE 2008 SEASON: D