Oakland Athletics v Pittsburgh Pirates

The Oakland A’s are…different. They are able to do things most other teams cannot. The A’s have enviable pitching depth and this season, aside from the annual Brett Anderson setback, they’re incredibly healthy. And effective, most importantly.

Only six starters have toed the slab for Oakland this season. The aforementioned Anderson, the irrepressible Bartolo Colon, the bearded A.J. Griffin, the mostly mediocre Tommy Milone, the wholly mediocre Jarrod Parker and Dan Straily. Poor old fifth starter Dan Straily, who might be the best fifth starter in the game.

Dan Straily pitched for the A’s last night against the Pirates, pitching 6 2/3 innings, allowing just one on two hits with seven strikeouts and three walks. With the All Star game upcoming, the A’s won’t need Straily until July 23rd so guess what, Dan? You’re going back to the minors.

Straily will return to AAA to get some work while the A’s call up one of their top prospects, pitcher Sonny Gray, to work out of the bullpen. It isn’t as though Straily doesn’t deserve to stay up with the big club, he’s simply the victim of timing.

Last night wasn’t a rare outing for Straily, either. It was his second straight strong start after he went seven strong against the Cubs last time out, surrendering just a single hit.

Straily’s story is an interesting one: a 24th round draft pick who made his way to the big leagues by dominating at every level in the minors, racking up impressive strikeouts along the way.

Straily was decent in his first exposure to big league hitting in 2012, though he was dogged by the long ball. In his second go ’round in the big leagues, Straily has kept the ball in the ballpark but allowed more runs due to, well, baseball.

The ability to avoid the long ball is a pillar of Oakland’s success. Among their starters, Straily’s strikeout rate ranks second on the staff at just over 20%, not much above league-average of 18.6% for starters.

He keeps some decidedly non-fifth starter company when you look at some of Straily’s peripheral numbers. Not aces by any stretch but Edwin Jackson, Jeremy Hellickson, Ervin Santana. Hardly number ones but not guys wanting for work.

2013 Dan Straily might not be “real life” Dan Straily, just as the 2012 version which allowed 14 of his 17 total earned runs via the long ball isn’t real either. He has a lot of ability and probably will slot in somewhere better than a fifth starter but not good enough to be, say, a third (if nominal starter rankings are your thing.)

At the very least, he is a guy deserving a job or steady work. Work he will find, once the A’s make their requisite off-season trade in which they re-load their farm system and roster with someone else’s leavings. It’s sort of their thing and it sort of works. – really well.

And the rest

I, for one, will never tire of this act.

Bill Baer on what happened to Jimmy Rollins pop [Crashburn Alley]

Welcome to Los Angeles, Ricky Nolasco [MSTI]

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons attempts setting Josh Johnson straight, succeeds [National Post]

MLB playing fast and loose with their own rules [Craiggers Revenge]

As if I needed more reasons to dislike Ian Desmond