The question: Is it already time to worry about the troubles of Parker and Griffin?
Jarrod Parker began spring training with a horrendous outing against the San Francisco Giants. He lasted only 1.1 innings, giving up six earned runs on five hits and a walk. Needless to say, this is both surprising and maybe a little bit frightening for the A’s organization and fans alike. It was his first game playing in a real competitive game since the second consecutive heartbreaking playoff loss to Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers. He didn’t show well.
Every pitcher, no matter how good, will have a bad game once in a while. Even the best pitchers in the MLB will have some mediocre showings on the mound. The problem with this start was that it was beyond bad, and far worse than mediocre. Parker had a rough first inning, allowing two earned runs. The second inning was even worse. He managed to get one out before being pulled, and by the end, four earned runs had been attributed to him. Simply put, he had a very hard time getting people out, and there are things that must be fixed by opening day.
Fortunately, his last start was a success. He gave up just one run in 3.1 innings, a home run to Ryan Braun. He did allow four baserunners, but avoided damage very well. He looked more like last year’s Jarrod Parker.
The Verdict: We shouldn’t worry too much about Jarrod Parker. Judging from a solid second start, he is starting to shake off the rust that had built up during the offseason. His first start looks more like mental unpreparedness for the new season than a trend.
The story of Griffin’s spring training has been a little different from that of Jarrod Parker. In Griffin’s defense, he has been more consistent than Parker. He has pitched five total innings in two starts and given up exactly five earned runs. Say what you want, but Griffin has been consistent if nothing else, even though it is a mediocre consistency.
In his first start he gave up two runs over two innings, a start in which he “out-dueled” Clayton Kershaw, and in his second start he gave up three runs in three innings. Neither of his performances were terrible, but they were not impressive either.
Griffin is a fearless pitcher who likes to throw strikes and challenge hitters. He has yet to walk a batter in five innings but has given up ten hits, two per inning. He needs to get back to locating well and changing speeds so that he can continue to throw strikes but with better results. That won’t do the job during the regular season, when he will be expected to put in a number of solid performances.
The Verdict: Griffin might struggle more to get back into form than this colleague Jarrod Parker. His style of pitching gives hitters a chance to hit well if they are assertive. That means he will need to make adjustments as the season wears on. He will have a number of mediocre starts throughout the season but he will have a number of effective starts as well. I would not worry too much.