New aces?

Posted by Jason Wojciechowski on March 26, 2017 at 3:03 PM

Zach Kram from The Ringer looks at a trio of A's pitchers that the headline of the piece compares to Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, and Tim Hudson. The trio does not include Sonny Gray, which is wild; instead, he's talking about Jharel Cotton (sure), Sean Manaea (I can see it), and Andrew Triggs (what). Cotton and Manaea have pedigree and performance for days, and the A's have them because they had good veteran players (Rich Hill, Josh Reddick, Ben Zobrist) available to trade for them.

Triggs, by contrast, despite having a prototypical pitcher's build (6-foot-4, listed at 220 pounds) was drafted three times, topping out in the 19th round, went from Kansas City to Baltimore three years later for cash, and then came to the A's when the Orioles waived him. He was an end-of-game reliever in the minors, so he wasn't viewed as a total nobody, but he also started precisely once in his minor-league career. He throws 91 mph. He's 28.

He does keep the ball on the ground, and DRA says his performance last year was not a mirage, leading to 1.2 WARP, which plays out over a 200-inning season to Jake Arrieta's 2016 WARP. I swear I didn't pick Jake Arrieta intentionally, because he's the obvious comparison: an Orioles flop who changed teams and turned into a star at age 27-28. It's too perfect. One difference, of course, is that Arrieta had been a fifth-round pick, a far sight from Triggs' 19th round, and he was twice a top-100 prospect while in Baltimore's system. The potential was there and it was obvious, and the Orioles failed to develop it. Triggs, by contrast, comes entirely out of nowhere, even to the A's, who only put him in the rotation when they basically ran out of real starters.

I'm happy to hope, of course, and I think Triggs' sinker and some of his pitch-by-pitch metrics leave room for optimism, but in the end, putting him on a list of the next Hudson-Mulder-Zito, two of which were very high draft picks who lived up to expectations, and one of which was a moderately high draft pick who exceeded them, is a bridge too far. Frankie Montas is coming. AJ Puk is coming. Grant Holmes is coming. Andrew Triggs? Let's see him get through more than six heavily monitored starts before we start anointing him.