With four wins in four days, the Athletics could not have asked for a more successful trip to Toronto. But, after losing a pair of starting pitchers while in Canada, north-of-the-borders injuries have now claimed a third Athletic.
For the first time since he came to Oakland in 2016, Khris Davis finds himself on the disabled list having suffered a Grade 1 right groin strain on a swing in the A’s 9-2 victory over the Blue Jays Sunday.
Davis, who leads the A’s and is among baseball’s top 10 in home runs (13) and RBIs (38), was placed on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday, retroactive to May 20, replaced on the roster by 22-year-old infielder Franklin Barreto.
Tuesday, before the decision to place the DH on the DL was made, manager Bob Melvin said he was hopeful the team would be able to avoid shutting Davis down:
“He’s as prolific a home run hitter, power hitter in baseball. … Other guys will have to step up.”
Hours after the move was made, the skipper had begun the process of moving on, naming Jed Lowrie, whose nine homers and 37 RBIs are second on the club, his designated hitter for Wednesday’s game against the Mariners and deciding on a plan to share the role among several lineup regulars:
“We’ll break it up some. It allows us to get some guys, maybe who’ve played quite a bit, certainly Jed in that category, to DH some. Gives us a little bit of a break here, to let some guys get a half-day off at the DH spot.”
While losing Davis, who has hit more homers (98) since the beginning of the 2016 season than any other player in the league, was definitely not in Melvin’s plan, the timing of the injury is perhaps the best he could have asked for.
Matt Olson, who is more capable than any other Athletic to fill Davis’ clean-up spot, has slashed .323/.400/.710 with three home runs and five RBIs over the past eight games. With two more hits Tuesday, including a double, Olson appears to be shaking off the rust that slowed him in the first month-plus of his first full big league season. Matt Chapman, who will join Lowrie and Olson in the heart of the order while Davis recovers, is slashing .342/.457/.632 with two homers and six RBIs in his last 11 games.
Davis’ supporting cast, which will take center stage while the star is out, is as hot as its been this season — though Lowrie is trending down since his sizzling April.
As of now, there is no certainty regarding the length of Davis’ absence. The 30-year-old slugger said he expects to be back when his 10-day minimum time concludes. But Melvin said the team has no intention of letting him return before he is at full health:
“We’re not going to bring him back until we feel like there aren’t any implications once he’s out in the field, these things can be a little bit delicate to come back from. … We don’t want these things to drag on, so we’re going to make sure he’s as close to 100-percent healthy as he can be.”
As far as his replacement on the roster, Barreto has seen little success in his short time as a big leaguer. The Venezuelan is slashing .197/.250/.352 in 71 at-bats spanning 26 games with the A’s. He does, however, have a history of success in the minor leagues.
Barreto, who has been among the A’s top prospects since he was acquired in the deal that sent Josh Donaldson to Toronto, is a career .289 hitter in the minor leagues, having launched 55 homers in 488 games.
Though he is trending in the wrong direction (.189/.318/.351 slash since April), Barreto homered and drew a walk in three trips to the plate Tuesday with Triple-A Nashville before he was lifted in the sixth for a flight to Oakland. He will get a chance to right the ship in his first game back with the big club as he is in the starting lineup Wednesday, batting ninth and playing second base.
“When you have a youngster like him here, you want to make sure you play him enough so you give him a chance to have some success.”
Along with Franklin Barreto, the A’s recalled starting pitcher Daniel Gossett (0-1, 11.05 ERA) to makes the start Wednesday. Gossett has struggled in two major league starts this season but has been dominant in Triple-A Nashville, going 4-0 with a 1.63 ERA and 1.086 WHIP in seven outings.
In his last outing, the 25-year-old right-hander held the Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals) to two hits and two walks over seven scoreless frames, striking out seven on 86 pitches.
To make room for Gossett, the A’s designated right-handed reliever Wilmer Font (0-2, 12.71 ERA) for assignment. Font has struggled before and after Oakland acquired him from the Dodgers in a trade that sent southpaw Logan Salow to Los Angeles, surrendering 10 homers in just 17 innings.