Houston Astros v Oakland Athletics

A.J. Griffin‘s performance in 15 starts was just another pleasant surprise for an Oakland Athletics team that delivered a few in 2012. Griffin tossed 82.1 innings and finished with a nifty 3.06 ERA, 3.85 FIP, and 4.06 xFIP to go along with 64 strike outs and an excellent 5.7 BB%. Some might express concern over surrendering the long ball (10 home runs allowed; 10.2% HR/FB rate is a little on the high side for a starter who calls O.co home), Griffin exceeded whatever expectations the club could have had for him coming in as a lesser known prospect.

Through three starts this season, Griffin appears to have picked up where he left off in 2012 before running out of gas in his final few appearances. Griffin laid some hurt on the lowly Houston Astros on Tuesday, giving up two earned runs on four hits and striking out eight, although four batters earned a free pass. The right-hander registered five whiffs with his 67-69 mph curveball, with Marwin Gonzalez and Rick Ankiel looking the most foolish.

Griffin vs. Gonzalez

Here’s how it appeared from Gonzalez’s perspective:

Just a bit outside for some grade-A trickery on a guy striking out 27.3% of the time in this young season. Rick Ankiel, though, who’s striking out nearly 75% of the time, had no chance on 1-2 bender in the zone.

Griffin vs. Ankiel

How Ankiel saw it:

Griffin lacks overpowering stuff, but manages to survive despite a low ground ball rate and shading high in terms of fly ball and line drive percentages. As long as he’s dropping that curveball and riding the benefits of a pitcher friendly park, Griffin should continue to find favourable results.