OAKLAND — As the A’s try to turn around their fortunes at home, a very relevant storyline continues to unfold thousands of miles away.
Right-hander Jesse Hahn, dispatched to the minors at the end of a disappointing spring, has put together back-to-back excellent starts for Triple-A Nashville. With Eric Surkamp having turned in two outings as the A’s fifth starter that could be judged mediocre at best, Hahn certainly has positioned himself for strong consideration once again for the big league rotation.
“We’ll always look at things,” manager Bob Melvin said following Wednesday’s 5-1 loss to the Angels. “No decisions right now. I don’t think today was Eric’s best day in the days that we’ve seen him. I think he pitched better in Seattle even though I had to get him a bit earlier.”
Surkamp went 4 2/3 innings Wednesday and allowed two runs, walking four (one intentionally) and striking out one. Over two starts, he’s allowed just four runs on nine hits, but the issue is that he hasn’t been able to pitch deep, going 4 1/3 and 4 2/3 innings respectively. (His defense didn’t help him against Seattle).
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Melvin stated firmly, when Hahn went down March 29, that he considers the 26-year-old right-hander a part of the Major League pitching staff. Hahn has tossed back-to-back starts of six scoreless innings for Nashville, giving up six hits with 11 strikeouts and four walks.
On Friday, the A’s will get a look at another starter who should factor prominently down the road when Henderson Alvarez pitches in a simulated game at the Coliseum. He is still a month-and-a-half or so away from being ready to join the A’s rotation, perhaps longer.
Top pitching prospect Sean Manaea was sharp in his Triple-A debut Monday and could very well factor into the decision-making in the early months of the season.
Elsewhere on the rotation front, Melvin spoke highly of Kendall Graveman’s early-season work so far. The second-year starter pitched well enough to deserve a victory Tuesday, throwing six innings of one-run ball, before the bullpen allowed a three-run lead to slip away.
Graveman has allowed just three runs over 11 1/3 innings in his first two starts.
“When we first saw him he was just kind of more sinker/slider, and now he’s got an array of pitches that can speed you up, slow you down,” Melvin said. “The changeup and the curve ball … he backdoors the cutter. He’s a lot tougher to think along with.”