If things break right for Andrew Triggs this season, he’ll be pitching every fifth day for the A’s.
Last season, it seemed he was flying to Nashville or Oakland every fifth day.
The right-hander showed his mental toughness, shuttling between Triple-A and the major leagues eight times and piecing together solid numbers in his first taste of big league competition.
A career-long reliever in the minors, Triggs made six starts last year for the A’s injury-riddled rotation. Now he’s viewed by the front office as a legitimate rotation candidate entering this year. It’s a nice opportunity for a pitcher who didn’t make his major league debut until age 27.
“If you told me I was (even) going to get one start up here, I’d have told you you were nutty,” Triggs said of his 2016 campaign. “It was an exciting year. But once you make your debut, it goes from ‘Ok, check that box,’ and then it’s about turning your dream into a career.”
Claimed off waivers from Baltimore last March, Triggs initially struggled against big league hitters, compiling an 8.00 ERA and .312 opponents batting average in 10 relief outings over his first four stints through June 3. Then he steadied himself, posting a 2.58 ERA and .224 opponents’ average in 14 games (six starts) over his final four stints before a lower-back strain ended his season in early September.
The A’s, who went through 14 different starters due to injuries, were looking for anybody to provide some stability in that role. Triggs went 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA in his six starting assignments, with opponents hitting .191 off him. He issued just one walk in 25 2/3 innings as a starter.
If only someone were keeping stats on his airline miles.
Triggs’ eight separate stints in the majors in 2016 are believed to be an Oakland record. On Thursday, while scrolling through his phone before flying to the Bay Area for FanFest, he came across his numerous flight documents from last year. Even he was amazed.
“I was just happy to be the guy they were calling,” he said.
A 19th round pick of the Royals in 2012, Triggs throws a low- to mid-90’s fastball with a slider, curve and a changeup that he showed better feel for last year as a starter. His three-quarters delivery can make pitches tough to pick up.
“His arm angle creates a little different look for the hitters, and that makes him very effective,” A’s pitching coach Curt Young said. “He’s got good stuff. It’s a different look to both right and left-handed hitters.”
Triggs was the No. 1 starter at USC from 2010-12. But in parts of five seasons in the minors, he made just one start out of 168 appearances. However, he’s confident his repertoire would translate well to a full-time starting role, and that’s what he’s focused on landing.
“That’s what I’d like to do and that’s what I’m going to compete to do,” Triggs said. “But if it comes down to it and they want me to do something else, I’ll certainly embrace that too.”
A’s catcher Stephen Vogt, while discussing the A’s possible rotation pieces, brought up Triggs’ name without even being asked about him. Given that Vogt also was 27 when he first broke through to the majors, certainly he can relate to Triggs’ situation.
“That’s a hard-working guy and someone who really stood out as a starter,” Vogt said. “He was really a bright spot last year that never got talked about. Knowing his work ethic and how much he wants it, and knowing he’s gonna be a starter and how he prepared over the winter, I’m really excited to see what he’s gonna do.”