OAKLAND -- Don't look now, but the A's have found an ace.
Frankie Montas was dominant again Saturday night, leading the A's to an 11-2 win over the Mariners at the Coliseum. The 26-year-old notched nine strikeouts in six innings, allowing just two runs, as he improved to 9-2 on the season.
"I'm just trying to go out there and compete," Montas humbly said after the game. "I'm just trying to throw strikes, and they're swinging."
It might seem that simple to Montas, but what he's doing this season is far from ordinary. The right-hander's nine wins are tied for second most in all of baseball. He also ranks seventh in the American League with a 2.85 ERA.
"Frankie did his thing," Melvin said. "It seems like it's kind of a typical game for him -- six innings, one walk, nine strikeouts. He pitched well again."
Montas now has recorded 19 strikeouts in his last two starts. He’s always had a terrific fastball, but an improved slider and new splitter have been the biggest keys to his breakout season.
"They've been pretty good, the splitter especially," Montas said. "I've been throwing more strikes with my fastball, and I can throw the splitter for a ball and they swing at it."
It's been a rapid ascent this year for Montas. After struggling during his first few seasons in the major leagues, he worked extremely hard this offseason to improve his fastball command and secondary pitches.
"A lot of people thought he'd be a bullpen guy, but he's a bona fide starter in this league," said A's shortstop Marcus Semien, who went 3-for-4 with his 10th home run of the season. "He added that splitter. That's what makes him an effective starter now, I think. He always had the fastball. He added a two-seam. Guys who throw a two-seam and a four-seam are tough because you don't know what swing to put on. That's kind of what he's doing right now."
Perhaps most impressive has been Montas' consistency. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 10 of his 13 outings this year, essentially giving the A's a good chance to win every game he starts.
Now that sounds like an ace.