For a young pitcher starting out in the Major Leagues, success can come and it go as quickly as it came. A perfect example of this is the case of Vin Mazzaro, who from June eight to July 18 saw tremendous success and looked like a mainstay in the rotation for the A’s. 

During that period of time Mazzaro went 4-2 with 31 strikeouts to 16 walks, had an ERA of 2.82, and held batters to a .235 average. The one knock on Mazzaro during this time was that he did have the tendency to hang his slider and when that happened it was hit a long way. 

Yet, as quickly as that success came it vanished and he’s now found himself back at Triple A Sacramento trying to fix what went wrong. In his last eight starts which he had six decisions in those starts, Mazzaro has gone 0-6 with a 5.60 ERA, has struck out 29 while walking 20, and batters are hitting .284 against him. 

The icing on the cake though was the last two starts for Mazzaro one against the New York Yankees and the other against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In those starts he went a total of eight innings, giving up 13 hits, 14 runs, 12 earned, walked six, struck out three, gave up five home runs, and had an ERA of 13.50.

Fircoal Urban wrote an article on the subject of Mazzaro‘s demotion in the article it self Urban expresses dismay that Mazzaro was sent down and in his mind it was a total surprise to see Mazzaro sent down. He states in the final paragraph of his article “The only reason I can think that this move was done was for Mazzaro to try to aid their AAA team with the day off, but it’s still confusing.”

Let’s start off with the first quote about Mazzaro aiding Sacramento. Yes, that is one part of the equation that Mazzaro builds his confidence backup and also helps Sacramento during their playoffs. Also, what Urban is referring to is that the A’s have an off-day on Thursday, so a fifth starter is not needed until sometime next week. 

That means that the A’s have to make a decision on who to start. He gives his case why Boof Bonser shouldn’t get the start by saying “Boof Bonser looks like the only option in the majors and his 5.17 ERA in zero starts doesn’t really excite me (Though it has been very solid since coming to Oakland).”

If Bonser is the option to take over as the fifth starter then fine, since coming to Oakland in his relief appearances which have been as a long reliever Bonser has compiled an ERA of 3.29. What was even more impressive though is after Mazzaro‘s horrendous outing against the Yankees, Bonser came in and pitched 4.1 innings striking out five walking one and giving up two hits. 

With Bonser he could definitely be looked at to make the start the next time the A’s need a fifth starter.

Other candidates are down in Sacramento include Mazzaro being brought back up, Clayton Mortenson who’s 13-6 with a 4.25 ERA with 112 strikeouts to 53 walks and he has made one start for the A’s this year going six innings, giving up four runs, three earned, six hits, two walks, struck out seven, and got a no decision. Tyson Ross could get the call up as he has gone back to where he should have been as a starter. 

The thing is that Mazzaro is just 23, but next season, he will have to earn a starting spot in the rotation. Starting pitching is one of the A’s strengths and in next years rotation, it will be the top three right now of Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, and Dallas Braden. 

As for the other two spots those will be up for grabs. One of those though will more than likely go to a free agent pitcher with experience and even if the A’s don’t go after a veteran starting pitcher to be the fourth starter. 

Mazzaro will have to beat out Mortenson, Ross, Bonser (could make a run for a starting spot has experience as a starter), and Josh Outman are all going to be after the fourth and fifth spot in the rotation. 

If a veteran pitcher is signed as a free agent that means four pitchers going after one spot.

The A’s are in a great position to be in with the starting pitching, but with Mazzaro being send down it was never about two bad starts. He had been struggling for awhile and with the disastrous outings against the Yankees and Angels it was just a matter of time before Mazzaro was sent down to Sacramento. 

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