OAKLAND – The A’s went their separate ways to enjoy a much-needed day off Thursday, but there’s an issue waiting for them when they get back.
Brett Anderson won’t return anytime soon because of a nagging ankle injury, and the A’s need to identify a suitable replacement for him in the starting rotation.
Right-hander Dan Straily proved again in Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to the Texas Rangers that he doesn’t appear to be that guy yet.
[INSTANT REPLAY: A's drop rubber match to Rangers]
Straily, 24, has shown he’s got Pacific Coast League competition licked, but he’s having trouble putting it together at the big league level.
Spot-on location is essential for Straily since he doesn’t blow up the radar gun. He walked four and was charged with five runs (four earned) Wednesday in just 4 1/3 innings. He also hit back-to-back hitters in the third, leading to two runs.
In the fifth, he walked another before allowing Adrian Beltre’s RBI single to make it 3-0. Granted, Jed Lowrie’s throwing error contributed to Texas’ rally. But Straily left a jam for Jesse Chavez when he was pulled with runners on the corners with one out.
Chavez proceeded to give up Nelson Cruz’s three-run homer on the first pitch he threw, and the A’s were down 6-0 and wouldn’t recover.
Over his past three starts, Straily has issued 11 walks in 14 2/3 innings. His big league ERA rose to 7.27 over five starts this season. In three starts with Sacramento, he’s allowed just two earned runs in 18 2/3 innings, though he also endured a five-walk game with the River Cats.
“I think it's more command right now,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “… It just hasn't got to a point where he's got on a roll and had three or four games where he really feels good about himself. He does have the stuff to do it -- we expect him to be that guy.
“At this point he just hasn't been able to reel off two, three wins in a row, or two or three good games in a row where every time you go out there you feel like, ‘I'm going to get a good performance.’”
Straily realizes he needs to show more consistency.
“(I’m) just not being consistent whatsoever,” he said. “That’s really what’s been hurting me, hurting the team. I just need to go out there and pitch like I’m capable of, not what I’ve been doing.”
A move doesn’t appear to be coming based on Melvin’s postgame comments. Asked if someone else might be auditioned in Straily’s spot, he responded: “I think what we have is what we have at this point.”
Are there other realistic options available?
Chavez, serving as the A’s long man right now, has made five starts for Sacramento this season with a 2.70 ERA. He’s the only alternative on the current 25-man roster.
Fans surely would like to get a look at 2011 first-round pick Sonny Gray. He’s the top pitching prospect in the organization, and he’s 4-1 with a 2.19 ERA in six starts with Sacramento. But Gray has just seven career starts at the Triple-A level, and the A’s may not want to rush such a coveted prospect before they really feel he’s ready.
It’s interesting to note, however, that Gray’s next scheduled start for the River Cats is Thursday. That lines him up perfectly to pitch again Tuesday, which is Straily’s next scheduled turn for the A’s.
At the very least, it makes for juicy speculation. But it’s not a great sign for the A’s that there’s even room for speculation in a rotation that appeared so rock-solid entering the season.
-- Other notes from the postgame clubhouse:
It wasn’t lost on Melvin that the A’s blew an opportunity to pick up ground on the Rangers after winning Monday’s opener. They let an eighth-inning lead slip away in Tuesday’s loss and then mustered just five hits Wednesday against Alexi Ogando and two Texas relievers.
Oakland is now a season-high seven games behind the first-place Rangers.
“You've got to find a way to finish off those games where you do have a lead,” Melvin said. “We weren't able to do it last night, and then we lose two out of three in a situation where it could have just as easily been the other way around.”
-- Catcher John Jaso was hit by a pitch in the right shin and came out of the game in the fifth. He didn’t sound overly concerned after the game but wasn’t sure about his availability for Friday’s series opener against Kansas City at the Coliseum.