Athletics

Athletics

Editor's note: For the past few weeks, NBC Sports California has been analyzing a different A's player each day to project their numbers for next season.

The A's are counting on Marco Estrada to have a bounceback season in 2019 and stabilize the top of their starting rotation.

Oakland signed the 35-year-old to a one-year, $4 million contract last week despite his struggles last year in Toronto. Estrada went 7-14 with a 5.64 ERA and 1.43 WHIP, striking out 103 and walking 50 in 143 2/3 innings.

But the A's are confident the veteran right-hander can get back to his 2016 form, when he was an All-Star.

"(He) pitched through some back and hip issues and lost a little bit of velocity," said A's general manager David Forst. "But his command is as outstanding as ever. His changeup has always been one of the best pitches in the league."

Added Oakland manager Bob Melvin: "I think a lot of (last year's struggles) had to do with some issues with his back. He was going out there and I think pitching not healthy. He's got such a good changeup and off-speed arsenal. He's a veteran guy who's going to be good for us."

Baseball Reference isn't as optimistic, projecting an 8-10 record with a 4.83 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. They predict Estrada to record 129 strikeouts and 56 walks in 151 innings.

We expect Estrada to perform a bit better than that. He has a career ERA of 4.24 in 11 Major League seasons. The biggest question will be his health. Back issues tend to stick around, especially for pitchers at the age of 35.

 

According to Forst, Estrada looks and feels great: "We've seen his workouts the last couple of weeks. He says he feels great."

[RELATED: A's counting on Estrada to be top-of-rotation starter]

As previously noted, Estrada's changeup is still highly effective. Getting out of the AL East should certainly help, as will pitching at the Coliseum with a great defense behind him.

Projection: 10-9, 3.91 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 131 K, 52 BB, 162 IP