Editor's note: Over the next few weeks, NBC Sports California will be analyzing a different A's player each day to project their numbers for next season.
At times last season, Frankie Montas looked like a top-flight big league starter.
In his five wins, the young right-hander recorded a sparkling 1.05 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. However, in his four losses, his ERA swelled to 6.33 with a WHIP of 2.06.
Overall last year, Montas went 5-4 with a 3.88 ERA and 1.46 WHIP, compiling 43 strikeouts and 21 walks in 65 innings of work. His most impressive outing came July 9 in Houston, when he shut out the defending world champion Astros through six innings, allowing just three hits and two walks.
Montas, 25, will try to take another step forward in his development next season when he figures to begin the year in the A's starting rotation. The talent has always been there for Montas, who was ranked as the Dodgers' fourth-best prospect in 2015 by MLB Pipeline, ahead of players like Cody Bellinger and Walker Buehler. His high-90s fastball and mid-80s slider form a terrific combination with which to attack hitters.
Baseball Reference projects Montas to go 5-4 next season with a 4.26 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. They predict him to pitch 74 innings with 66 strikeouts and 28 walks.
We expect Montas to go over 100 innings, if for no other reason than Oakland's lack of starting pitching depth. Montas will have a great opportunity to establish himself as a reliable big league starter.
The biggest key will be the first inning. Last year, Montas' first-inning ERA was 8.18, far higher than any other frame. If he can settle into his starts, his above-average stuff should take over.
We believe Montas will have a breakout season in 2019 with a major increase in his strikeout total, as he continues to learn how to utilize his dominant fastball and solid slider.
Projection: 10-6, 3.69 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 91 K, 36 BB, 108 IP