The A’s pitching staff is led by hugely underrated staff ace, Brett Anderson. Easily one of the most talented starting pitchers in baseball, Brett Anderson has done nothing but succeed since being called up to the majors in 2009. The 23 year old has a 3.48 career ERA, 1.25 WHIP and an excellent 3.45 K/B, with incredible control. In 2010, as a 22 year old kid, Brett walked only 1.76 batters per 9 innings, a fantastic rate that shows just how talented his man is. So far in 2011, he hasn’t disappointed, posting a 2.29 ERA and a 6.50 K/BB, thanks to a ridiculous BB rate 0.92 BB rate. He simply does not know how to walk batters, which is a very good thing in Oakland where the pitchers’ ballpark and the awesome defense gives the pitcher the advantage on balls put in play. All indications point to Anderson being an excellent pitcher in the major leagues for a long time.
The #2 on Oakland isn’t exactly a scrub either. Trevor Cahill really broke onto the scene in 2010, posting a 2.97 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP and a 56% GB% as a 22 year old in his second year. Not exactly a power pitcher, Trevor struck out only 5.4 batters per 9 innings in 2010. However, that’s probably the only thing he did wrong. With his excellent sinker, Cahill is excellent at inducing ground balls, which is very good when your infield defense is as good as Oakland’s. So far in 2011, Oakland’s Opening Day starter has excelled, just as the rest of their staff has, with a 3.12 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, the expected 54% GB% and a very surprising 9.35 K/9 rate. Some scouts have been saying that the extra K’s are due to Cahill reintroducing his curveball that got him so many minor league K’s, but that he stopped using in the major leagues. If that’s the case, and these K’s stay, Cahill could join Anderson as a dominating ace on the Oakland staff. If not, he’ll still be an extremely solid #2 on a very talented staff.
The #3 on the Oakland staff draws a lot of comparisons to Jonathon Sanchez on the aforementioned Giants’ staff. 25 year old Gio Gonzalez is your prototypical power pitcher; a ton of strikeouts and a ton of walks. The difference is that, for some reason, Gio Gonzalez doesn’t give up a lot of fly balls and therefore not a lot of home runs. His career GB% of 47.7% is excellent for a power pitcher and helps Gio succeed even with his high walk rates. GG had a pretty good year in 2010, with a very strong 3.23 ERA, a great HR/9 of 0.67 and a decent BB rate of 4.13…..well, decent for a high walk pitcher at least. His K/9 dropped pretty significantly from pervious years but, other than that, his 2010 showed great steps in the right direction. If Gio can get his K rate back over 8.00 and maintain his BB rate around 4.00, he should be a very strong pitcher, especially with his ability to limit FB and HR. he fits in very well as the #3 of the staff behind Anderson and Cahill.The 4th starter on this Oakland staff is the veteran of the group, which is funny because Dallas Braden is only 27 years old. While he maybe doesn’t have the ability that the other starters do, Dallas Braden has played pretty well for Oakland, especially in his last two years. He’s thrown up ERA’s under 4.00 in 2009 and 2010 (3.89 and 3.50) as well as respectable HR rates and GB%’s. Never being a guy who strikes out many batters (5.55 career K/9), Braden was able to counter that in 2010 with an extremely low BB/9 of 2.01, helping his K/BB sit at a very respectable 2.63 mark. His tERA in 2010 was also a well above average 3.74. Braden is not a standout pitcher with top of the rotation stuff, but he is a solid starter with good control and low home run rates. He’s certainly one of the better #4 starting pitchers in the major leagues. Brandon McCarthy is not really a good pitcher, but as the #5 starter he doesn’t really have to be. So far in 2010, he’s done well, following the trend set by most of the rest of the rotation, walking almost no one, and he has a good 3.52 ERA. While I doubt he will continue this level of success, all he has to do is but up average/decent numbers to compliment what is one of the best 1-2-3-4 in baseball with Anderson-Cahill-Gonzalez-Braden to form a really standout starting staff. Not to take anything away from what those Giants have been able to do, but people should really start looking across to the Bay. You might be surprised as to how similar the two rotations are.