The Athletics announced on Thursday that right-hander Jharel Cotton has been optioned to Triple-A Nashville. While Cotton has been impressive at times, he’s also allowed five or more runs in three of his starts, including a seven-run drubbing at the hands of the Angels on Tuesday. As Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes, GM David Forst suggested that Cotton merely needs to improve his consistency and may not be long for the minors. ““Jharel has pitched better than what his overall line shows,” said the GM. “…[H]e just needs some more consistency with his performance. The bottom line is that we currently have six starters who are probably deserving of being in the big leagues; Jharel needs to continue to improve in Nashville so he’s ready when the next opportunity arises.” Cotton’s demotion will clear a spot in the rotation for lefty Sean Manaea, who is returning from shoulder troubles early next week. Manaea will be joined by Sonny Gray, Kendall Graveman, Andrew Triggs and Jesse Hahn in the starting five.
More from the AL West…
- While there’s been plenty of talk about Yonder Alonso altering his launch angle and adopting a more fly-ball-heavy approach, Athletics hitting coach Darren Bush tells Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area that Alonso hasn’t fundamentally changed his approach at the plate. Rather, Alonso has adopted a leg kick that has improved his timing and the quality of his contact. “All he’s trying to do is be in position and execute a good swing, and the by-product is the ball is going the way that it should,” says Bush. “…This year, his leg kick is just on time. He’s given himself time to read the pitch, he’s given himself time to execute his swing. … He doesn’t have a two-part swing. It’s just one fluid swing.” Alonso, once one of the game’s to overall prospects, has been a light-hitting first baseman for years but is off to a ludicrous start in 2017. To date, he’s batting .303/.389/.687 with 11 home runs and five doubles through 113 plate appearances.
- Mariners southpaw James Paxton, on the disabled list due to a forearm strain, has already been cleared by doctors to begin throwing, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Word of Paxton’s injury — particularly the ever-ominous forearm strain — was a disheartening blow the Mariners and their fans, though GM Jerry Dipoto expressed optimism that Paxton would only miss two starts at the time of the injury. While it’s not yet certain that his absence will be that brief in nature, a return to throwing just six days after landing on the DL is certainly encouraging.
- In his latest Angels mailbag, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times tackles a number of topics, ranging from Yunel Escobar’s trade candidacy to the dearth of production the Halos have received in left field. On right-hander J.C. Ramirez, Moura notes that pitching coach Charles Nagy urged Ramirez to ditch his erratic four-seam fastball for a two-seamer late last season, and the results have somewhat quietly been excellent. The hard-throwing 28-year-old has a 3.21 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 46.6 percent ground-ball rate in 47 2/3 innings dating back to last September. Moura notes that scouts to whom he’s spoken still don’t know what to make of Ramirez in the long run, but his early work as a starter in 2017 has been a bright spot for the Halos — especially as they deal with injuries elsewhere in the rotation.