MESA, Ariz. — The A’s rotation took on a major twist Tuesday as right-hander Jesse Hahn was optioned to Triple-A Nashville after his struggles this spring.
That points to Felix Doubront opening the season as Oakland’s fifth starter, joining Sonny Gray, Rich Hill, Chris Bassitt and Kendall Graveman.
Hahn’s demotion isn’t a surprise from the standpoint that he has endured back-to-back poor Cactus League starts, allowing a combined 13 earned runs in 15.1 innings. His overall spring ERA is 11.15.
But it is a shock when putting into context the important role that Hahn seemed to hold in the rotation entering camp. After missing roughly the final three months of last season with a strained forearm, Hahn came into the spring healthy and seemingly primed to claim a spot as the A’s No. 2 or No. 3 starter behind ace Sonny Gray. Although he showed good velocity on his fastball, he struggled in particular at the start of games and said Monday that he didn’t have the “sink” he normally gets from his sinker.
Doubront has a 6.19 ERA over five appearances (three starts) this spring, but his last start against the Rangers, when he was charged with seven runs, has been his only bad outing. Technically, the A’s could still consider Sean Manaea, their top prospect, for the No. 5 role. But Manaea is coming off some groin soreness, and the A’s want to be careful with the young lefty.
Plus, putting Doubront (who is out of minor league options) in the rotation frees up a bullpen spot for Ryan Dull, who has yet to allow a run through eight appearances this spring.
A's manager Bob Melvin is expected to address Hahn's demotion after today's game against the Cubs.