6/17/2014 10:48 P.M. ET
As always, A's will find viable fill-in for Pomeranz
Oakland has knack for spotting, developing talent when circumstance dictates
By Mike Bauman / MLB.com
The most recent casualty among the Oakland Athletics' starting pitchers is lefty Drew Pomeranz.
Some teams might look upon this sort of thing as a catastrophe. But for the A's, dire circumstances somehow translate mostly into opportunity.
After a rare bad outing against the Texas Rangers on Monday night, a disappointed Pomeranz was returning to the clubhouse and he punched a wooden chair. He has been placed on the disabled list with a broken right hand.
"I just let my emotions take over me, and I did something stupid," Pomeranz said.
Let's give Pomeranz the benefit of the doubt. At least he didn't do the incredibly stupid thing, which would have been punching the chair with his left hand. This way, while he's on the DL, Pomeranz can at least keep throwing.
Up until this episode, Pomeranz had been another one of those uplifting pitching stories that are a particular specialty with the A's.
In 2010, Pomeranz was the fifth pick overall in the Draft, selected by Cleveland. He was regarded as one of the best pitching prospects in the game. But Pomeranz was traded to the Rockies the next year, and like a lot of pitchers, when his career reached Colorado's thin air, a hitter-friendly environment, it turned downward.
But the Athletics, who find value where other clubs aren't able to, traded for Pomeranz in December 2013. Pomeranz, 25, began the season as a reliever, but he got a chance in the rotation when the A's, of course, needed another starter.
In seven starts prior to the one Monday night, Pomeranz compiled an ETA of 1.88. He was yet another pitcher who had been lightly regarded by other clubs, but not by the A's.
Oakland's season to date has been a story of overcoming the kind of pitching injuries that would have ruined a season for a less resourceful club.
Two staples of the rotation, Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, were lost to Tommy John surgery before throwing a regular-season pitch for the A's. Losing 40 percent of the projected rotation is the kind of thing that many teams simply cannot withstand.
All of this happened, and the guy the Athletics obtained to be their closer, Jim Johnson, did not work out in that capacity.
You add it all up, and it must equal calamity, right? Things have been so bad, that after 2 1/2 months, the A's have the best record in the American League. Over their first 70 games, the A's were a .600 club. Only the San Francisco Giants could make the same claim.
Faced with serious injuries in the starting rotation, the A's not only found capable replacements, but winning replacements. Sonny Gray's emergence continued. Scott Kazmir's re-emergence continued.
Jesse Chavez, 30, whose career seemed to define the term "journeyman" has been a revelation. Tommy Milone has not been spectacular, but he has been useful.
And then there was Pomeranz, another career revived in Oakland. Now he, too, must be at least temporarily replaced.
At some point, it is relatively easy to believe that with all these injuries to the starting rotation, the A's will become like the rest of the Major League mortals, and will simply find themselves short of pitching.
But that's what people thought about them coming out of Spring Training. And 70 games later, the A's led the Major League in team ERA.
Somebody will have to take Pomeranz's spot in the rotation. Given the way the staff has evolved this season, that somebody will be a fill-in for a fill-in. But he'll be pitching for the Oakland Athletics, so it will be important work. And somehow, it will probably be winning work, too.
Maybe it will be Dan Straily, who has won at the Major League level before. He was sent down earlier this season, but he has worked well recently at Triple-A Sacramento. Whoever enters Oakland's rotation will be expected to succeed. And then he probably will.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.