ARLINGTON, Texas -- With a solid group of starting pitchers stashed in the Minor Leagues, the A’s have reached the point in the season where it’s time start calling upon that depth for help.
In need of an extra starter for Saturday’s doubleheader against the Rangers at Globe Life Park, Oakland will add right-hander Paul Blackburn before the start of the day-night doubleheader and give him the nod for the first game.
Blackburn’s Major League career has been a tale of two seasons to this point. He burst onto the scene with a strong rookie 2017 campaign that saw him compile a 3.22 ERA over 10 starts, but an elbow issue in 2018 limited him to just six starts and a 7.16 ERA.
“We’ve seen Paul pitch really good games for us, it’s just about being consistent,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s run off several games in a row for us in the past where he’s been really good and others where he’s struggled. It was just kind of finding yourself and believing in yourself at the big league level and using the resource of the really good games that he’s pitched here and consistent confidence. That’s all he’s lacking.”
Blackburn returns to the Majors for the first time in 2019 after posting a 4.55 ERA in 11 starts at Triple-A Las Vegas this season.
The A’s rotation is set for the four games over three days in Texas, but another decision on a starter for Monday’s game in Tampa Bay will have to be made over the weekend. That spot is now open after Daniel Mengden was optioned back to Triple-A on Thursday.
Aaron Brooks, who is now in the bullpen after starting out the year in the rotation, is one option, but he’s only pitched one inning in the past three weeks.
“A lot of it potentially depends on how these next four games go,” Melvin said. “Brooks would be considered. He hasn’t pitched at length for a while, but a lot of it depends on how much bullpen we use. I expect to use a lot of bullpen.”
Luzardo heads to Stockton
Jesus Luzardo will throw three innings at Class A Advanced Stockton on Tuesday, a source told MLB.com. Luzardo, the A’s No. 1 prospect, tossed two innings and 36 pitches in a simulated game at the club’s Minor League complex in Arizona on Thursday as he continues his progression from a left shoulder strain. A.J. Puk, their No. 2 prospect, also threw in a sim game recently as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery.
While Puk is a candidate to pitch out of the bullpen this season in order to limit his innings, Melvin said the A’s will look to build up Luzardo’s arm and resume utilizing him as a starter this year.
“Both guys threw hard,” Melvin said. “We’ll see where we go with Puk. We’ll see how he gets here, health-wise. We were looking for a bullpen role with [Jharel] Cotton, I’m not sure that’s off the table for Puk. Luzardo would build up to be a starter.”