The Oakland Athletics pitching staff looks much different than two years ago, thanks to a flurry of moves made by an organization in the midst of a rebuild. The 2023 A’s rotation will feature some new names, and could include some of the team’s promising young pitchers. Let’s take a look at the A’s options for the rotation for this season.
A Look at the Athletics Rotation Options
- RHP James Kaprielian (5-9, 4.23 ERA, 6.6 K/9 in 2022)
- RHP Paul Blackburn (7-6, 4.28 ERA, 7.2 K/9)
- RHP Shintaro Fujinami (Pitched in Japan)
- RHP Drew Rucinski (Pitched in Korea)
- LHP Ken Waldichuk (2-2, 4.93 ERA, 8.6 K/9)
With Frankie Montas no longer in the background, the Athletics rotation will feature a new face at the top. Among one of the pitchers who should be a part of the 2023 A’s rotation is RHP James Kaprielian. In his second full season in the Majors, Kaprielian recorded a career-high in innings pitched (134), but also saw his ERA (4.23) and K% (17.0%) drop from 2021. The former first-round pick failed to get many whiffs on his heater compared to 2021, but still boasted a pretty solid slider.
Paul Blackburn, meanwhile, will look to return to the A’s rotation after missing most of the second half due to inflammation in his right middle finger. Blackburn posted his best campaign since his first in the Majors back in 2016. The 30-year-old posted a career high in strikeouts (89), and proved to be effective in limiting walks and hard-hit contact.
Next up is Shintaro Fujinami, acquired by the Athletics in free agency this past winter. It will be interesting to see how Fujinami will perform in the Majors, after a relatively successful career with the Hanshin Tigers. Last season, Fujinami struck out 115 over 107.1 innings, and pitched to the tune of a 2.77 ERA.
RHP Drew Rucinski could also be a factor in the A’s rotation come 2023. Rucinski worked mainly as a reliever in the Majors from 2014-18, but was a starter for the NC Dinos for four seasons. Last season with NC, Rucinski recorded a tidy 2.97 ERA and struck out 194 over 193.2 innings.
Then, there’s Ken Waldichuk. Waldichuk — who we rated as one of the 10 rookie pitchers to watch for in fantasy in 2023 — saw his first time in the Majors in 2022 after being called up late in the season. The former Yankee prospect struck out nearly a batter an inning, and flashed three solid offerings. The 25-year-old should be given every chance to make the ballclub out of camp this spring.
The back end of the A’s rotation will be competitive, but one name that could secure a job is A.J. Puk. Originally drafted as a starter by the Athletics, the once highly-touted prospect has yet to receive an opportunity to start at the MLB level. Injuries have played a role in that, but Puk has been highly effective as a reliever. The lefty regularly hit the upper-90s with his fastball, and sported a very solid slider. Granted, one should expect a slight decrease in velocity should Puk return to the rotation.