ARLINGTON, Texas — Daniel Gossett had trouble putting things all together on the mound in his rookie season. At the very least, however, he’s got a firm grasp on what he needs to work on leading into 2018.
“I think I’m letting mental things get in the way of my pitching,” he said following the A’s 8-4 loss to Texas on Saturday. “It’s something to learn from. You’ve got to work on that as much as the physical stuff.”
The right-hander gave up four runs and lasted just 1 2/3 innings against the Rangers, the shortest of his 18 career starts in the majors. The long ball has been a primary problem — Gossett allowed 21 home runs over 91 1/3 innings this season. Entering the night, his 20 homers allowed were second most in Oakland history by a pitcher over the first 17 games of his career.
Missed location is the obvious culprit any time a young pitcher watches the ball fly over the fence. But Gossett believes that what he needs to correct is just as much between the ears as anything else.
“I’ve just got to let myself pitch and trust myself to pitch,” he said. “I know that I’m a better pitcher than what I’ve been showing lately.”
Despite a 4-11 record and 6.11 ERA, the 24-year-old Gossett still will arrive at spring training next year as a legitimate contender for a starting role. That’s the plain truth of Oakland’s rotation. Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea are locks for two of the five spots. Beyond that, there’s a long list of possibilities. In alphabetical order, they go: Raul Alcantara, Chris Bassitt, Paul Blackburn, Jharel Cotton, Gossett, Jesse Hahn, Daniel Mengden and Andrew Triggs, and that’s just the group from the 40-man roster.
So competition will be wide open and opportunities there for the taking. Gossett, a second-round pick in 2014 who just completed his third full season of professional baseball, impressed the big league staff during spring training, and that put him near the front of the pack when reinforcements were needed from the minors. Gossett found that the learning curve was steep. The key now is to draw from that experience and apply it next season.
Manager Bob Melvin said he thought Gossett ran out of gas a bit over September, but added: “He’s got to get ahead, have better command of his breaking stuff. Usually when his fastball’s down and he’s ahead in the count, he’s got enough pitches to keep you off balance. But when he gets behind it’s a little bit of a tougher time for him.”
Despite getting an extended taste of the majors this season, Gossett knows that doesn’t guarantee anything once spring training rolls around.
“I had a couple good starts here and there, but the bad starts outweigh the good starts, so I’ve still got something to prove,” he said. “Come in with that attitude. A little chip on my shoulder couldn’t hurt.”
Right fielder Matt Joyce, who hit his 25th homer in the game, exited late after tweaking his left hamstring. Melvin said Joyce won’t be in the lineup for Sunday’s season finale.