2015 A’s: Young guns boost starting rotation

The Oakland Athletics starting rotation for 2015 is made up of a few returning familiar faces — and two fresh young guns.

Sonny Gray

Gray is a fastball pitcher with a deft curveball he likes to throw with two strikes. 96 of his 183 punchouts came on his low-velocity breaking pitch.

Gray has found his success with location in the bottom half of the zone, since his 5-foot-10 frame can only add so much leverage, limiting pitch speed.

Jesse Hahn

In 2014, Hahn pitched a total of 706 fastballs and almost half of that number of curveballs. Hahn also collected more strikeouts with his curveball than he did fastballs.

Hahn’s deadliest option, his breaking pitch, starts down the middle and drops low and away.

Coupled with the movement and a serious drop in velocity from his heater, Hahn struck out 44 with the curve compared to 11 with the fastball.

A’s New Faces Jesse Hahn.

Scott Kazmir

Coming off his first season with the Athletics, Kazmir relied heavily on his fastball more than any other pitch, throwing it 1,562 times. He pitched just over 190 innings and gave up 16 home runs with 164 strikeouts.

Kazmir threw his sinker for a strike 35 percent of the time in 2014, the highest rate among all his pitches.

Kazmir came to Oakland as a pitcher that was nearly run out of baseball due to poor performance. Injuries were a factor, but Billy Beane rolled the dice. It paid big dividends in 2014, though he is at risk for regression.

He remains a wild card, but deserves the benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise over a period of time.

Kendall Graveman

Athletic’s newbie Kendall Graveman had an excellent showing at spring training in Arizona over the past month.

In fact, during a March 22 game against the Reds, Graveman went 5-1/3 innings without allowing a ball to be hit in the air. 

Being the rookie he is, however, it’s hard to tell how his season will play out.

A’s New Faces Kendall Graveman.

 Drew Pomeranz

Drew Pomeranz started ten games for the Athletics in 2014.  He’s pitched just under 70 innings and has a 8.35 strikeout average over nine innings.

Pomeranz’s favored off-speed pitch is his knuckle-curve, making up 267 of his pitches. The same knuckle-curve struck out thirty-one batters he faced in 2014.

SFBay A’s beat reporter Jason Leskiw projects Drew Pomeranz to be the fifth-best starter in all of baseball this season.

And between his youth and very little wear on his arm, there’s plenty of room for optimism.