The Oakland Athletics are a game out of first place in the American League West. Yet, manager Bob Melvin suddenly now has to decide on what to do regarding starter Sean Manaea.
A rather surprising turn of events after Manaea excelled in March and April. He went 4-2 with an era of 1.03, opponents hit .134 against him, he struck out 37 while walking seven and allowed four home runs in 43.2 innings. His dominating start to the season got highlighted when he threw a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox. He struck out 10 and walked only two on 108 pitches.
In the 20 starts since May began, Manaea has thrown seven or more innings only four times. He’s given up 17 home runs in that span, his era is at 4.74, opponents are hitting .263 and he’s gone 7-7 while throwing 112 innings and only striking out 70.
What’s concerning is his lack of velocity. When he came to Oakland in a trade from the Kansas City Royals he threw 95-97 miles per hour. His average fastball in 2016 was 93.3, 2017 92.1 and as of now sitting at 91.3.
One option for Melvin is to push a start or two of Manaea’s back. Though that isn’t likely to happen until September when the rosters expand. If it does happen before hand Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Edwin Jackson and Mike Fiers who is pitching tonight for Oakland all are veterans who have the ability to have a start pushed up.
When September comes the options include Chris Bassitt who has already made six starts in 2018, Daniel Mengden who started the season in the rotation before winding up on the DL has pitched well in Nashville and the one who is most likely to get some starts is Frankie Montas who started 10 games before being sent down in which he went 5-3 with a 3.75 era. The one pitcher that will not get called up is phenom Jesus Luzardo.
Hopefully by giving Manaea some extra rest he’ll be able to reclaim the form in which he started the season on.