Back by the Bay: A’s building another stellar rotation

The Giants have Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Barry Zito. The A’s have a bunch of young starters who rarely are mentioned on SportsCenter unless they pitch a perfect game.

The Giants’ starters have won three Cy Young Awards and made seven All-Star teams. The A’s have zero and one. The Giants’ rotation will pull in $33.25 million as a group this season. A’s starters will be paid $2.385 million. Total, including bonuses.

Trevor Cahill is a Cy Young candidate this season.
Trevor Cahill is a Cy Young candidate this season.

But the A’s rotation has been just as successful as the Giants’ in 2010. The numbers for the starters that each team will use down the stretch are practically a wash. The A’s are a combined 37-26 with a 3.32 ERA; the Giants 40-32 with a 3.33 ERA.

Maybe it is time to learn why Trevor Cahill has been the most difficult pitcher to hit in the American League this season. And how Gio Gonzalez has earned more wins than any Giant except Lincecum. And just who are Brett Anderson and Vin Mazzaro. And what has happened to Dallas Braden since his perfect game.

First, a group study: Oakland’s starters are younger than you might think: 22, 22, 23, 24 and 26. Three were drafted by the A’s and all pretty much came through the minors together. They hail from all across America: New Jersey, Oklahoma, Miami, San Diego and Stockton, Calif. Stuff-wise, they probably aren’t on the Giants’ level. San Francisco’s rotation has a trio with 95-plus mph fastballs. The A’s have one, maybe.

To help demonstrate that the A’s starters are making the most out of what they do throw, we consulted two sources who have seen plenty of them: Oakland closer Andrew Bailey and a veteran major league scout. Their reports, ranked in order of where each starter best fits into the rotation:

Brett Anderson, 22. The lefthander from Stillwater, Okla., was a second-round draft pick by the Diamondbacks in 2006 and came to the A’s in the 2007 Dan Haren trade. He made 30 starts as a rookie in 2009 and has had two stints on the disabled list this season.
This season: 2.88 ERA, 34 strikeouts to seven walks, zero homers allowed in 50 innings.
Scout says: "He has a power fastball, power slider. Clearly has the best stuff and is the one guy on this staff who could be a No. 1, but that depends on his health."
Bailey says: "The quiet killer. Big power arm, and he’s not afraid to pitch inside."

Trevor Cahill, 22. A second-round pick out in 2006, Cahill started the season on the disabled list but has emerged as a Cy Young candidate.
This season: 12-4, 2.56 ERA, an AL-best .192 batting average against.
Scout says: "He doesn’t have eye-popping stuff but has been one of the best starters in baseball because of his ability to keep the ball down. I’d compare him to Carl Pavano or a Derek Lowe, but with a little better stuff."
Bailey says: "Has a Brandon Webb-type sinker. The big difference for him this season has been throwing his curve for a strike. When we were first in the minors, he never talked to anybody, almost like he was scared because he’d never been out of his corner of the world in San Diego. But now he’s really come into his own, as a pitcher and a person."

Gio Gonzalez, 24. One of the rotation’s three lefthanders, he is the A’s only starter to not miss a turn this season. Gonzalez, out of Miami, was a first-round pick by the White Sox in 2004, was traded to the Phillies in 2005 and back to Chicago a year later before coming to Oakland in the 2008 Nick Swisher deal.
This season: 3.51 ERA, 10-7 record, a .183 batting average allowed against lefthanders. He also ranks among AL leaders in walks (62 in 141 innings).

Vin Mazzaro has allowed 12 homers in 88 2/3 innings.
Vin Mazzaro has allowed 12 homers in 88 2/3 innings.

Scout says: "Very good fastball and curve, good changeup. He has trouble pitching down in the zone. He struggles with command, which leads to high pitch counts."
Bailey says: "Power arm with a big, loopy curve. From Miami, he’s the always outgoing type."

Vin Mazzaro, 23. He was a third-round pick in 2005 out of New Jersey. Mazzaro wasn’t called up for good this season until late May but is coming on. Seven of his past eight starts have been strong.
This season: 6-4 record, 3.86 ERA, but 12 homers allowed in 88 2/3 innings.
Scout says: "A good sinking fastball but he also can have trouble with his command."
Bailey says: "A 94-mph fastball and strong slider. He’s like me. We’re both from New Jersey and can talk all day."

Dallas Braden, 26. He is the only member of the rotation not drafted in the first three rounds. Braden was a 24th-round pick in 2004 out of Stockton, the town he proudly calls home. Section 209 — the area code in his hometown — was packed for a promotion when Braden pitched his perfect game on Mother’s Day.
This season: 6-8 record, 3.75 ERA.
Scout says: "He has the least amount of stuff but probably the best idea of how to pitch. He commands well and really knows how to change speeds."
Bailey says: "He throws probably the most changeups per start in the league. He can throw one 74 (mph), he can throw one 64. He’s not eligible for arbitration yet, but he’s still our veteran leader."

Comparing the current rotations of the Giants and the A’s:
Team Giants A’s
Record 40-32 37-26
ERA 3.33 3.32
Average age 26.2 23.4
Combined salary $33.25M $2.385M
Cy Young awards 3 0
All-Star appearances 7 1
No-hitters 1 1

Stan McNeal is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at smcneal@sportingnews.com.

The Giants have Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Barry Zito. The A’s have a bunch of young starters who rarely are mentioned on SportsCenter unless they pitch a perfect game.

The Giants’ starters have won three Cy Young Awards and made seven All-Star teams. The A’s have zero and one. The Giants’ rotation will pull in $33.25 million as a group this season. A’s starters will be paid $2.385 million. Total, including bonuses.

Trevor Cahill is a Cy Young candidate this season.
Trevor Cahill is a Cy Young candidate this season.

But the A’s rotation has been just as successful as the Giants’ in 2010. The numbers for the starters that each team will use down the stretch are practically a wash. The A’s are a combined 37-26 with a 3.32 ERA; the Giants 40-32 with a 3.33 ERA.

Maybe it is time to learn why Trevor Cahill has been the most difficult pitcher to hit in the American League this season. And how Gio Gonzalez has earned more wins than any Giant except Lincecum. And just who are Brett Anderson and Vin Mazzaro. And what has happened to Dallas Braden since his perfect game.

First, a group study: Oakland’s starters are younger than you might think: 22, 22, 23, 24 and 26. Three were drafted by the A’s and all pretty much came through the minors together. They hail from all across America: New Jersey, Oklahoma, Miami, San Diego and Stockton, Calif. Stuff-wise, they probably aren’t on the Giants’ level. San Francisco’s rotation has a trio with 95-plus mph fastballs. The A’s have one, maybe.

To help demonstrate that the A’s starters are making the most out of what they do throw, we consulted two sources who have seen plenty of them: Oakland closer Andrew Bailey and a veteran major league scout. Their reports, ranked in order of where each starter best fits into the rotation:

Brett Anderson, 22. The lefthander from Stillwater, Okla., was a second-round draft pick by the Diamondbacks in 2006 and came to the A’s in the 2007 Dan Haren trade. He made 30 starts as a rookie in 2009 and has had two stints on the disabled list this season.
This season: 2.88 ERA, 34 strikeouts to seven walks, zero homers allowed in 50 innings.
Scout says: "He has a power fastball, power slider. Clearly has the best stuff and is the one guy on this staff who could be a No. 1, but that depends on his health."
Bailey says: "The quiet killer. Big power arm, and he’s not afraid to pitch inside."

Trevor Cahill, 22. A second-round pick out in 2006, Cahill started the season on the disabled list but has emerged as a Cy Young candidate.
This season: 12-4, 2.56 ERA, an AL-best .192 batting average against.
Scout says: "He doesn’t have eye-popping stuff but has been one of the best starters in baseball because of his ability to keep the ball down. I’d compare him to Carl Pavano or a Derek Lowe, but with a little better stuff."
Bailey says: "Has a Brandon Webb-type sinker. The big difference for him this season has been throwing his curve for a strike. When we were first in the minors, he never talked to anybody, almost like he was scared because he’d never been out of his corner of the world in San Diego. But now he’s really come into his own, as a pitcher and a person."

Gio Gonzalez, 24. One of the rotation’s three lefthanders, he is the A’s only starter to not miss a turn this season. Gonzalez, out of Miami, was a first-round pick by the White Sox in 2004, was traded to the Phillies in 2005 and back to Chicago a year later before coming to Oakland in the 2008 Nick Swisher deal.
This season: 3.51 ERA, 10-7 record, a .183 batting average allowed against lefthanders. He also ranks among AL leaders in walks (62 in 141 innings).

Vin Mazzaro has allowed 12 homers in 88 2/3 innings.
Vin Mazzaro has allowed 12 homers in 88 2/3 innings.

Scout says: "Very good fastball and curve, good changeup. He has trouble pitching down in the zone. He struggles with command, which leads to high pitch counts."
Bailey says: "Power arm with a big, loopy curve. From Miami, he’s the always outgoing type."

Vin Mazzaro, 23. He was a third-round pick in 2005 out of New Jersey. Mazzaro wasn’t called up for good this season until late May but is coming on. Seven of his past eight starts have been strong.
This season: 6-4 record, 3.86 ERA, but 12 homers allowed in 88 2/3 innings.
Scout says: "A good sinking fastball but he also can have trouble with his command."
Bailey says: "A 94-mph fastball and strong slider. He’s like me. We’re both from New Jersey and can talk all day."

Dallas Braden, 26. He is the only member of the rotation not drafted in the first three rounds. Braden was a 24th-round pick in 2004 out of Stockton, the town he proudly calls home. Section 209 — the area code in his hometown — was packed for a promotion when Braden pitched his perfect game on Mother’s Day.
This season: 6-8 record, 3.75 ERA.
Scout says: "He has the least amount of stuff but probably the best idea of how to pitch. He commands well and really knows how to change speeds."
Bailey says: "He throws probably the most changeups per start in the league. He can throw one 74 (mph), he can throw one 64. He’s not eligible for arbitration yet, but he’s still our veteran leader."

Comparing the current rotations of the Giants and the A’s:
Team Giants A’s
Record 40-32 37-26
ERA 3.33 3.32
Average age 26.2 23.4
Combined salary $33.25M $2.385M
Cy Young awards 3 0
All-Star appearances 7 1
No-hitters 1 1

Stan McNeal is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at smcneal@sportingnews.com.

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