Tommy John strikes again

This is certainly not the way the Athletics hoped to start their 2014 season.  Add another name to the DL list in starting pitcher Jarrod Parker and his recent ulnar collateral ligament tear, requiring him to get his second Tommy John surgery in five years.  This is a big blow to the A’s considering he was penciled in as the opening day starter against the Cleveland Indians.  With Bartolo Colon departing to the New York Mets, and their number four starter A.J Griffin beginning the year on the DL, the road ahead is a lot more unclear for the A’s than first expected.

Parker’s 10.61 ERA in three spring training starts gave the A’s a reason to believe that something was wrong. It resulted in him taking a trip to the world renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews.  He was unfortunately informed that he needed the infamous Tommy John surgery.  After hearing this news, what were the A’s going to do?

They would have to turn to their number two pitcher. His name is Sonny Gray and he is currently recovering from a surgery on his left hand.  Although it’s his non-throwing arm, problems can always arise after a surgery; especially when it’s the hand you need to field the ball.  Preceding him is Scott Kazmir who was a gamble to begin with.  He has been inconsistent in his play ever since he left the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009.

Parker was 12-8 with a 3.97 ERA in 32 starts in 2013, with 23 of them being quality starts; tied for most on the team. Parker’s injury is a big loss for the A’s. The were relying on him to propel their team forward after winning the AL West the last two years.  This injury is especially worrisome after the AL West saw  teams revamp their offenses such as the Rangers acquiring Prince Fielder from the Tigers and the Mariners signing Robinson Cano from the Yankees.  To go along with those additions, the Angels return with former MVPs Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols; not to mention the 2013 AL MVP runner up Mike Trout.

After the injury, each starting pitcher on the A’s roster will be bumped up a slot in the rotation, leaving the number five slot up for grabs.  There is speculation that journeyman Jesse Chavez, or newly acquired prospect Drew Pomeranz, could be poised for the spot.  The story for Pomeranz could play out to be an interesting one, with him being acquired from the Colorado Rockies for the A’s former ace Brett Anderson.  It draws interest because the A’s GM Billy Beane has been known for dealing away aces at just the right time with Barry Zito and Mark Mulder being prime examples.  With that being said, could this be Parker’s fate if he comes back strong? Or perhaps some team offers high value for him, Beane rejects it, and Parker ends up a bust. Whatever happens in the future is up for speculation, but one thing is certain for the present. The A’s need some help for their starting rotation, and fast.

Matt Gazzola


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