3. Could Frankie Montas start Opening Day for the Oakland Athletics?
Another exciting young fireballer on the A’s pitching staff, right-hander Frankie Montas was rolling in 2019 before a crippling PED suspension forced him to miss the remainder of the season.
It was a potential All-Star season for the young righty before his hiatus. In 16 starts, he posted a 2.63 ERA with 103 strikeouts in 96 innings pitched, against just 23 walks.
His 3.00 FIP indicated that had he been able to continue on in 2019, he likely would’ve maintained the high performance level from his fast start.
As always with players coming off PED-related suspensions, it remains to be seen how effective Montas will be since he’ll have to pitch without an illegal substance for the 2020 season.
Nevertheless, while his career 3.85 ERA is promising, the career 1.36 WHIP on his ledger could raise some questions down the road.
Despite his potential, I wouldn’t rate Montas’ chances all too highly of earning an Opening Day start in 2020. Coming off a suspension, he’ll have to prove his worth once more.
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4. Could Mike Fiers start Opening Day for the Oakland Athletics?
Mike Fiers is probably not the most popular player in the game right now.
Especially not after publicly calling out the Houston Astros for their sign-stealing system that helped them win a championship in 2017, a team he was part of. Good thing he did, though.
Luckily, baseball is not a popularity contest. So Fiers should have a reasonable chance to start Opening Day for the A’s.
The right-hander has the most experience in Oakland’s rotation by far, having made his MLB debut back in 2011 with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Fiers was solid but unspectacular in 2019 for the A’s, perhaps a phrase that best sums up his entire big league career to this point. He started 33 games, posting a 3.90 ERA with 126 strikeouts against 53 walks in 184.2 innings pitched.
Those 184.2 innings pitched were the most for Fiers in a single season of his career to date.
Though his 3.90 ERA looks good, he didn’t strike out many batters and his WHIP was 1.18, a bit high for my comfort. His FIP of 4.97 seems to agree, indicating that he benefited greatly from the A’s strong team defense.
The veteran right-hander seems to be no more than purely an innings eater for a club that obviously values their bullpen and young pitching talent.
That said, Fiers probably has the second-best odds on the team to net the Opening Day honor, behind Sean Manaea.