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If it were any other team at any other time, Jesse Chavez could be written off a flash in the pan in an instant. We have seen too many times, however, how a move to Oakland can do amazing things for pitchers’ careers.
Over the last three seasons, the Athletics have done a great job of bringing up young prospects and turning them into Big League starters. There have been holes to fill, however, and every year that hole seems to be filled by a more-than-capable yet very overlooked veteran.
Consider how these three very different pitchers found redemption in the Bay Area over the last three years alone.
Bartolo Colon: Prior to arriving in Oakland, Bartolo appeared to be a lost cause, starting just 73 games over his previous five seasons and compiling a 22-31 record with a 4.72 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. The A’s pitching coach Curt Young got to him and Bartolo posted one of his best seasons at the age of 39, going 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 2012. He improved on that year in 2013, and saw the best numbers of his career, going 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.
At the ripe age of 40, Bartolo didn’t just resurrect his career, he pitched better than he did in his 20s, earning a deal with the Mets that keeps him in the Bigs until he turns 42.
Brandon McCarthy: Prior to arriving in Oakland in 2011, McCarthy pitched for five seasons with the White Sox and Rangers, going 20-24 with a 4.56 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. In his two seasons in Oakland, McCarthy went 17-15 with a 3.29 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Since leaving Oakland, he has gone 5-12 with a 4.81 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. Just sayin’.
Guillermo Moscoso: Who? Exactly. Moscoso has had one year of relevance in his career and that year came in… you guessed it. Before 2011, Moscoso was a no-name prospect, having pitched just 14.2 innings out of the pen for the Rangers. In 2011, Moscoso came out of nowhere to start 21 games for the A’s, posting a 3.38 ERA and 1.09 WHIP over 128 innings.
After that season, the A’s traded him to Colorado for Seth Smith and he has fallen off the face of the earth since. In just 36 appearances for the Rockies and Giants, Moscoso has posted a 5.74 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in two years since leaving Oakland.
So what does all this mean for us? It means Oakland, and its steady flow of phenomenal pitching coaches, from Rick Peterson to Curt Young, have done wonders for incoming veterans. It’s why fantasy owners should get plenty excited about Scott Kazmir’s prospects after his 2-0 (2.03 ERA, 0.98 WHIP) start in the Bay Area. It’s also the reason owners shouldn’t overlook Jesse Chavez.
Before 2013, Chavez had made 156 Major League appearances, mostly out of the bullpen, and had posted a miserable 5.99 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. In his first season with the A’s, Chavez turned his career around, posting a 3.92 ERA and 1.22 WHIP out of the pen.
This spring training, Chavez was in the running for a long reliever/spot starter job. By the end of March, he had more than nailed down the gig, going 5-1 with a 2.22 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 25 K/6 BB over 28.1 innings.
Then, the A’s started to lose pitchers left and right. With Jarrod Parker out for the season and A.J. Griffin nursing a couple of injuries himself, Chavez was elevated from longman to starting the fourth game of the season.
In his first start, Chavez faced the Mariners’ plenty-capable lineup which currently ranks seventh in runs scored through the first week or so. The 30-year-old held the M’s to one earned run, five hits, and two walks while striking out four over six innings.
He followed that up with an even more impressive effort on Wednesday, taking on a Twins lineup that currently ranks fifth in the Majors in offense. Chavez went seven innings, limiting the Twins to just one run on six hits while striking out nine batters and walking none. Jim Johnson would blow the save, costing Chavez his second missed win of the season, but the impressive performance was nonetheless so.
We have seen this time and again, and we’ve also seen many fantasy owners miss out on prime opportunities, assuming that Brandon McCarthy will pitch like he did in Texas or Guillermo Moscoso is a nobody-flash-in-the-pan. If you were one of those unlucky owners, now is your time to redeem yourself, not unlike a veteran pitcher arriving in the Bay Area.
As of this writing, Chavez is owned in just 5 percent of Yahoo leagues. That number will go up by tomorrow. Grab him before anyone else can.
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