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.”

Watch Khris Davis' three-run ninth-inning home run give A's tie in Japan

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Watch Khris Davis' three-run ninth-inning home run give A's tie in Japan

Bob Melvin has seen this before. Even in Japan, Khris Davis is clutch.

With two outs and the A's down 6-3 in the ninth inning, Davis smashed a three-run homer over the left field wall to tie it up at 6-6 at the Tokyo Dome. The exhibition against the Nippon Ham-Fighters prevents extra innings and ended in a tie. 

"I literally said, 'I've seen this happen before,'" A's manager Melvin said to reporters after the game. 

The tie ended the A's exhibition series against the Fighters before their Opening Series games start against the Mariners. Oakland won the first exhibition, 5-1.

Davis was the hero, but Matt Chapman was the A's best player once again in the tie. Chapman went 2-for-2 with a walk, and went 5-for-5 in the two exhibition games. 

[RELATED: Five A's players who were cut but still could make impact]

The A's first run of the game came off in the second inning. Stephen Piscotty smashed a solo shot to left field to give Oakland an early lead. 

Brett Anderson started on the hill where he allowed two unearned runs while striking out four. Shortstop Marcus Semien committed two errors on the day. 

The A's open the regular season against the Mariners in Tokyo on Wednesday morning at 2:35 a.m. PT.

Five A's players who could make impact in 2019 season despite being cut

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Five A's players who could make impact in 2019 season despite being cut

One of the biggest keys to the A's success last season was their depth, and not just at the major league level. Oakland got significant contributions from several players who started the season in the minors. Names like Lou Trivino, Ramón Laureano, Nick Martini, Mark Canha and countless others played crucial roles after earning call-ups.

The A's hope to receive similar production from their farm system this season. With that in mind, here are five spring training cuts who could make an impact later this year:

Dustin Fowler

Fowler put together a strong spring, batting .293 (12-for-41) with two home runs, four RBI, and two stolen bases. That followed a terrific season in Triple-A last year, where he slashed .341/.364/.520. He will likely be the first outfielder called up this year.

Fowler struggled at the major league level last season but his upside is enormous. Still just 24 years old, he has plenty of time to put it all together in Oakland. With his combination of power and speed and the A's uncertainty in left field, Fowler will likely get another big league opportunity sooner rather than later.

Daniel Mengden

Mengden has already proven he can retire major league hitters. He just has to do it consistently. Last season, the right-hander went 7-6 with a 4.05 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, certainly respectable numbers in the American League.

Unfortunately for Mengden, the A's were granted a fourth minor league option and elected to use it in his case. The 26-year-old struggled a bit this spring, but with Oakland's questionable starting rotation, he will almost certainly get another chance in the coming months, or even weeks.

Tanner Anderson

The A's were very high on Anderson when they acquired him from the Pirates this offseason, and they're still high on him now, despite optioning him to Triple-A. The 25-year-old looked extremely sharp this spring, allowing just one earned run in nine innings, with 11 strikeouts.

Anderson has experience both as a starter and reliever, and the A's love his versatility. The right-hander could be a prime option as the second pitcher in "opener" games later in the season.

Jorge Mateo

Mateo has loads of natural ability but is still a bit raw at the plate. Still, the 23-year-old middle infielder is a dynamic talent with top-end speed and could be a tremendous weapon for the A's late in the season.

Mateo slashed just .230/.280/.353 last year in Triple-A but notched a league-leading 16 triples as well as 25 stolen bases. This spring, he went 5-for-18 with a double, triple, and three walks. At the very least, Mateo will be a valuable pinch-runner in September.

[RELATED: Mateo impresses A's in spring training]

Sean Murphy

Murphy is unquestionably the A's catcher of the future. The only question is when that future begins. Oakland appears set for now with Nick Hundley, Josh Phegley, and Chris Herrmann splitting time behind the plate, but Murphy will put pressure on all of them to perform.

MLB Pipeline ranks Murphy as the A's third-best prospect, behind only pitching phenoms Jesús Luzardo and A.J. Puk. Murphy is already MLB-ready defensively and his offensive production is improving rapidly. If he puts up big numbers in Triple-A, he could earn a promotion sometime this year.