The Oakland A’s minor league experiment with the eight-man tandem rotations has ended, although aspects of the system will remain. Starting this weekend, the A’s pivoted from four-day to five-day turns in their rotations in Double-A Midland, High-A Stockton and Low-A Beloit. In Midland and Beloit, the rotations will still use three tandems, while in Stockton there will be two tandem-starter pairs.
For more on the A's eight-man starting pitcher tandem rotation system, read my piece on 2080baseball at https://2080baseball.com/2017/04/eight-is-enough-for-as-minor-league-rotations/.
A’s minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson said the decision to modify the three starting rotations came after a recent meeting.
“We had a nice little pow-wow and determined that with the three rest days in the middle [of starts], it didn’t always allow for a good work day,” Patterson said on Monday. “It was almost like you were on the mound Monday, off the mound Tuesday, on the mound Wednesday, off the mound Thursday. It’s not that too many guys were saying things about it, but the intensity of the side sessions had been cut-down a little bit. We think it will help to get an extra day in-between starts.”
The new starting rotations will be as follows:
- In Midland, Heath Fillmyer and Corey Walter will have their own days to start and won’t be limited to the 65-pitch limit. James Naile, Joel Seddon, Grant Holmes, Ben Bracewell, Brett Graves and Kyle Friedrichs will pair up as tandem starters for the other three turns in the rotation.
- In Stockton, A.J. Puk, Logan Shore and Evan Manarino will have their own days to start. Angel Duno, Boomer Biegalski, Dustin Hurlbutt and Casey Meisner will pair up as tandems for the remaining two turns in the rotation.
- In Beloit, Dalton Sawyer and Brendan Butler will have their own days to start. Dakota Chalmers, Brandon Bailey, Mitchell Jordan, Michael Murray, Ty Damron and Matthew Milburn remain as the tandem starters for the remaining three turns in the rotation.
“We still want to see if the tandems are effective with guys, going either 4 [innings]-and-4 [innings] or 5 [innings]-and-4 [innings],” Patterson said. “For us, it’s the best of both worlds. We get the four days in the middle. We get the extra days for recovery. We have extra workdays. And now we can see some guys pitch into the sixth and seventh and turn the line-up two or three times. And we’ll still see if that 5-and-4 or 4-and-4 can be effective.”
Mann making move to bullpen
When right-hander Brett Graves got the call up to Double-A Midland this weekend, it was so he could replace left-hander Brandon Mann in the RockHounds’ tandem rotation. While it may seem like a demotion for Mann, it is anything but. Patterson says the move was made in large part because Mann was pitching so well that the organization wanted to see him in as many relief situations as possible. The implication is that Mann could be a factor for the A’s major league bullpen by the end of the year.
“Mann’s last couple of outings have been really good and we are just going to see if he comes out of the bullpen for an inning and a third, or two-thirds or a lefty-righty-lefty what kind of results he can have,” Patterson said. “We’ll just see how that plays. The velo has been really good and in a shorter stint, it may even jump more, we’ll see.”
The A’s signed Mann as a minor league free agent in each of the past two off-seasons. He won the Texas League Pitcher of the Week award for the week of April 30. Mann threw 7.1 scoreless innings that week, striking out eight and not walking a batter. The left-hander has 29 strike-outs in 25.2 innings this season.
Graves earned his promotion to Double-A after a red-hot start with High-A Stockton. Graves had a 2.55 ERA and a 29:2 K:BB in 24.2 innings for the Ports. In his first start with the RockHounds this weekend, Graves went five innings, allowing just a run on four hits. He struck-out five. Patterson was happy there was an opportunity to move Graves up to Double-A.
“You saw the numbers he has been putting up. They are crazy good,” Patterson said.