OAKLAND -- Opportunities to boost a club’s pitching staff are rare this late in the year, but the A’s will get to add a big reinforcement in the next few days.
Frankie Montas, who was suspended 80 games on June 21 after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, will be eligible to return Wednesday for the second game of a two-game series against the Angels. The right-hander has been throwing on a normal schedule at the A’s Minor League Complex in Arizona, with his arm built up to throw 100 pitches.
“He’s available for the last five days of the year. When we get to Anaheim, he’ll be available,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We’re still not sure how we’re going to use him yet, but that’ll be a nice piece to have here for the last five games."
Montas, 26, was in the midst of a breakout campaign after bouncing around organizations to begin his young career. The righty went 9-2 with a 2.70 ERA across 15 starts, and his 2.9 WAR at the time of his suspension was fourth best among qualified starters, according to FanGraphs.
“You saw what he meant to our team over the course of the regular season until the issue popped up,” Melvin said. “It’s just another quality guy to have.”
It’s unclear how the A’s might use Montas over those final five games. The likely scenario would see him pitch out of the bullpen, where his plus-fastball would play up more. He could also start one of the final few games of the regular season in Seattle in the event the A’s were to clinch a playoff spot and want to hold back Sean Manaea or Mike Fiers to start the American League Wild Card Game.
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“It was more kind of oblique and ribs,” Melvin said. “In the last couple of days, he’s felt better. I think today he feels as good as he has. He’s made some strides.”