Athletics

Andrew Triggs wants to settle in one spot with A's

Andrew Triggs wants to settle in one spot with A's

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.”

Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Liam Hendriks

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Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Liam Hendriks

(Over the next week, we will be examining each of the A's arbitration-eligible players to determine whether they will return in 2019.)

It was a roller coaster season for Liam Hendriks in 2018. After being designated for assignment in June, the right-hander returned to the A's for a stellar September and ended up starting the American League Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium.

Hendriks, 29, finished the season 0-1 with a 4.13 ERA, but in September he allowed just two runs in 13 innings for an ERA of 1.38. By the end of the year, he had raised his fastball velocity to 96 mph on a consistent basis and was a completely different pitcher.

Hendriks earned $1.9 million for the season and is projected to get $2.1 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

Why he might be a bargain

If Hendriks can maintain the stuff he displayed in September, he can be a valuable member of the A's bullpen moving forward. With Jeurys Familia, Fernando Rodney, Shawn Kelley, and Cory Gearrin all unlikely to return, Hendriks should have an opportunity to pitch significant innings. It remains to be seen whether Oakland utilizes an opener in any games next season, but Hendriks has proven capable of filling that role as well. That type of versatility could make him worth a $2.1 million salary.

Why he might be too pricey

You could certainly argue that $2.1 million is too much for a journeyman reliever like Hendriks. While he pitched well in September, that's a pretty small sample size for a fairly significant price tag, and Hendriks did struggle early in the season. The A's have a strong bullpen even if they do lose some of their veteran relievers, including Hendriks. Blake Treinen, Lou Trivino, J.B. Wendelken, Yusmeiro Petit, and Ryan Buchter should all return, so Hendriks may not be not absolutely essential.

Verdict

This one could go either way. We'll say that Hendriks showed enough in September to earn another season with the A's. Between his improved velocity and versatility as a pitcher, he can be a valuable member of the Oakland bullpen. If the A's do continue to experiment with using an opener, Hendriks was their best pitcher in that role and should continue to be a good option. They can also use him later in the game as a setup man for Treinen. Most importantly, you can never have too much pitching depth.

A's third baseman Matt Chapman undergoes left thumb surgery

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A's third baseman Matt Chapman undergoes left thumb surgery

The A's announced that 25-year-old third baseman Matt Chapman underwent successful left thumb surgery Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Dr. Steven Shin performed an ulnar sided sesamoid bone excision and expects Chapman to make a full recovery to be ready for the start of spring training.

The thumb issue had bothered Chapman last spring training and at times during the season. Despite that, he slashed .278/.356/.508 with 24 home runs, 42 doubles, and 68 RBI.

Chapman was also one of the best defensive players in baseball, leading MLB with 29 defensive runs saved. His 8.2 WAR ranked seventh in the league.

Chapman was a first-round draft pick of the A's in 2014. He has played two major league seasons, batting .263 for his career.