It’s doubtful that the prospect of facing Ross Detwiler, Zach Neal and Andrew Triggs this weekend had Cardinals hitters trembling with fear.
Those three weren’t even in the A’s starting rotation picture when the second half began, but they currently occupy three-fifths of Oakland’s starting staff. So far this weekend, facing a team fighting for a Wild Card spot and leading the National League in home runs, the A’s starters have held up quite well.
Neal stood out in Saturday’s 3-2 victory over St. Louis, allowing just one earned run with no walks over six innings of work. Detwiler held his own over 5 1/3 innings the night before in a game the A’s lost 3-1. Now, it’s Triggs’ turn to take the mound in Sunday’s rubber match, and he’s been the best of those three starters lately.
Triggs, a 27-year-old rookie with just 22 major league appearances (four starts) under his belt, has given up just one run over his past two starts (11 2/3 innings). He throws from a three-quarters delivery that is deceptive for a right-handed hitter to pick up, and since he’s entered the rotation, Triggs has expanded his arsenal, throwing an effective changeup that he says he hasn’t really had a chance to utilize when he’s pitched out of the bullpen.
[INSTANT REPLAY: A's rally late, beat Cardinals 3-2]
Beyond that, Triggs has impressed A’s manager Bob Melvin with his handling of a crazy routine this season. He’s bounced between the bigs and Triple-A Nashville constantly in 2016 — this is his eighth stint with the A’s, believed to be the most for any player in Oakland history over one season. He’s earned Melvin’s respect for the way he’s dealt with all the shuffling.
“You feel good for him because he’s such a good soldier going up and down,” Melvin said after Triggs’ most recent start against Cleveland.
If Triggs keeps up the good work, he just might thrust himself into the competition for a roster spot next spring. Right now, he said he’s just trying to tackle each challenge that’s in front of him and not worry too far down the road. But he’s relishing his shot to start.
“I’m enjoying it,” he said. “Once you get stretched out to be allowed to go more than a few innings, it’s been a lot of fun.”
Ryon Healy’s double in the eighth inning Saturday helped spark the A’s go-ahead rally against the Cardinals. It also extended Healy’s hitting streak to 13 games. That’s the longest active hitting streak in the majors and it established a new season-best hitting streak for the A’s. Coco Crisp had a 12-gamer earlier in the season.