Manaea shut down with rotator cuff tendinitis
Lefty a long shot to return this year for postseason-hopeful A's
HOUSTON -- The upstart A's are coming undone. Baseball's hottest team has lost two starters in as many days: Sean Manaea is shut down indefinitely with rotator cuff tendinitis in his left shoulder, while Brett Anderson, who joined him on the disabled list Tuesday, is back in the Bay Area readying for tests on his strained left forearm.
It's a double dose of grim news for the playoff-hopeful A's, who will seek continued success -- they're an MLB-best 45-17 since June 16 -- without a pair of key contributors. Oakland entered Tuesday 4 1/2 games ahead of the Mariners for the second American League Wild Card spot and 2 1/2 behind the Astros for the AL West lead.
Until Sunday, when he became the ninth A's starter to hit the DL this year, Manaea had been the lone residual member of Oakland's original starting five who had managed to evade the injury epidemic plaguing the club's rotation. Now he could very well be lost for the season.
"It depends on when he feels good enough to start the strengthening program, and then after that how long it takes him starting to play catch, throwing bullpens and so forth," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Obviously we're going to be careful with him, so whether there's enough time left, I'm not sure yet."
Melvin wouldn't rule out Manaea's return, be it in September or for a potential postseason assignment in October, but the odds are not in the A's favor.
Manaea, who spent time on the DL with a shoulder injury last year, is 12-9 with a 3.59 ERA across a team-high 160 2/3 innings. No other A's starter -- the team has used 13 of them this year -- has made it to 100. They've been particularly cautious in managing Manaea's workload, holding him to fewer than 90 pitches in 14 of his 27 outings and under 80 in five of his last eight starts, while monitoring his decreased velocity.
"We've seen it over the course of the season. He's managed it," Melvin said. "He's been able to pitch around it for a guy that threw a lot harder early in his career, but it came to a head the other day where he just wasn't comfortable enough playing catch, let alone throw a bullpen."
The lefty dazzled in April, earning AL Pitcher of the Month honors after compiling a 1.00 ERA and throwing a no-hitter against the Red Sox on April 21. Since, he's pitched to a 4.54 ERA, yet he could be counted on to take his turn every fifth day in a patchwork rotation that finally had found its rhythm.
With Manaea and Anderson out of the mix, the A's will turn to Frankie Montas (scheduled to start Thursday's series opener against Seattle) and Daniel Mengden (penciled in for Saturday) to help the starting staff do its part in keeping the team afloat. Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill and Mike Fiers fill out this group.
"It's a credit to our front office in creating the type of depth that we have," Melvin said. "Both of these guys have pitched really well at certain periods of time during the course of the season, so we have no reason to not be confident in them. It's just the position we're in, and you have to play the cards that you're dealt."
The A's lost Jharel Cotton and No. 2 prospect A.J. Puk to Tommy John surgery in the spring. Opening Day starter Kendall Graveman and Daniel Gossett have also succumbed to the season-ending operation. Cahill and Mengden also missed time on the DL, while Andrew Triggs (nerve irritation) and Paul Blackburn (right elbow) remain sidelined.
Sept. 1 can't come soon enough; the A's will be able to supplement their bullpen with additional arms when rosters expand.
"With Sean being the only guy that was in the rotation the entire season, that one's probably a little more difficult, not that any of them aren't difficult," Melvin said. "To lose your guy that's really been the ace of the staff for the better part of the season, that one's a little tougher to digest, but it's what we have to deal with and we move forward."