Several injured Athletics pitchers are on the march back to the majors, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Whether they’ll make it in time to help draw the team back into the postseason race remains to be seen.
Jharel Cotton is furthest along among those sidelined with long-term maladies. He’s slated to launch a rehab assignment on Friday in his effort to return from Tommy John surgery, which means he could be pitching from a big-league mound by mid-June.
The 27-year-old Cotton hasn’t appeared in competitive action since the 2017 campaign, his first full go at the MLB level. He managed only a 5.58 ERA in 129 innings, with 28 long balls largely to blame. Still, he has long been seen as a potentially solid back-of-the-rotation big-league hurler.
There’s an even more talented trio of lefties also grinding through the rehab process as well. Former first-rounder A.J. Puk just threw his first simulated game, which is quite a notable step in his own TJ recovery. He could be an option as soon as July, Slusser indicates, with Sean Manaea (shoulder surgery) and Jesus Luzardo (rotator cuff strain) potentially being available after the trade deadline.
This glance at the injured list serves as a reminder of how much talent the Oakland organization has been forced to go without in the early going. Unfortunately, it seems as if the club will need to claw back into the race before it receives much in the way of reinforcement.
The rotation hasn’t been the sole cause of the A’s slow start, but there are certainly some issues. The three veteran offseason signees haven’t exactly thrived. Outside of his no-hitter, Mike Fiers has struggled. Marco Estrada did the same before going down with an injury. Brett Anderson has been solid but is hardly a dominant rotation piece. There are mixed results otherwise. Frankie Montas is pitching quite well and Chris Bassitt has shown some promise in a four-start sample, but Aaron Brooks has been homer-prone and Daniel Mengden’s first start of the year didn’t go well.