Athletics

How A's plan to use Frankie Montas when he returns from suspension

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How A's plan to use Frankie Montas when he returns from suspension

OAKLAND -- Before his 80-game PED suspension, Frankie Montas was the A's best starting pitcher, and quite frankly, one of the best starters in all of baseball.

In 15 outings, the right-hander went 9-2 with a 2.70 ERA, notching 97 strikeouts in 90 innings. While he won't be eligible for the postseason, Montas will be allowed to return for the A's final five games of the regular season, beginning Sept. 25.

Those games are likely to be critical, with Oakland, Tampa Bay, and Cleveland all battling for two AL wild-card spots. Montas, 26, could certainly give the A's a nice boost in that final week.

"We've had Frankie working out in Arizona since he got suspended," A's general manager David Forst told Chris Townsend on A's Cast. "He's thrown a number of simulated games down at Fitch Park (in Mesa), basically pitching four or five innings every fifth day."

Forst also mentioned that Montas is eligible for a rehab assignment starting on Sept. 10. If either Triple-A Las Vegas or Double-A Midland advances to the next round of the minor-league playoffs, he would make a start on Tuesday.

When Montas does return to Oakland, the A's could either use him as a starter for one of the final five games or as a reliever to help their struggling bullpen.

[RELATED: Melvin hints at A's using Luzardo]

"We expect those to be meaningful games and we've kept him stretched out in case we want him to start one of those five," Forst told Townsend. "But Frankie has obviously pitched out of the pen in his career as well. Sure, run him out there five nights in a row, why not? But no, when we get closer, we'll figure out the right role for him. But he's going to be active for those five games and he'll be a part of the group."

Even though Montas won't pitch in the postseason this year, he could definitely help the A's get there.

Why A's Matt Chapman could win AL MVP award in 60-game 2020 MLB season

Why A's Matt Chapman could win AL MVP award in 60-game 2020 MLB season

Matt Chapman ranks sky-high among the American League’s best third baseman. The A’s All-Star has won two straight platinum gloves, and was named 2018’s best defensive player regardless of position.

Oh, and the 27-year old can hit a little bit, too.

Chapman slashed .249/.346/.506 in 2019, with 36 home runs and 90 RBI, though his production took a significant dip in the second half. That’s still a quality offensive season, but certainly not in the AL’s elite tier. Still, his combination of offense and stellar glovework left him sixth in MVP voting.

It was three places back of teammate Marcus Semien, a shortstop who had a career year in every phase of the game.

Chapman left that excellent campaign wanting more, especially after hitting just .178 in September and October. He tinkered some with his swing before spring training, with some minor changes he believes will produce better and more consistent results.

“I think it was more mechanical than anything,” Chapman told MLB.com this spring. “I was doing a few things that weren’t giving me the best chance for success,” Chapman said. “I tried to just clean up those few things and I think I’m going to have a better baseline for this season.”

Those who have seen it extensively have great confidence Chapman’s bat will produce even greater dividends.

“The sky is the limit for him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said back in February. “He’s one of the top players in the league and really probably hasn’t had the offensive season that he would like to have at this point. He’s just going to keep getting better. He’s not at his ceiling right now.

“I’ve said often he’ll be in the MVP conversation for years to come.”

Will that be this year, in an odd 60-game season compacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic?

There’s no reason why not. Winning the AL MVP will be difficult as long as Mike Trout’s around. There are several worthy candidates in the junior circuit beyond the 28-year old three-time MVP, including a few players on his own team.

[RELATED: Jesús Luzardo: Everything you need to know on A's top pitcher prospect]

Chapman could well get hot early, scorch through a short season and carry the A’s to the playoffs. That’s undoubtedly within the realm of possibility for someone who felt more comfortable with his swing before baseball hit pause over the current public health crisis.

His defense will never rest, shining above the rest in terms of range, arm strength, dynamic playmaking ability and overall consistency.

Spending a solid chunk of his time in the Nos. 2 or 3 spot in the order, typically in front of Matt Olson, should help him get pitches to hit and, if he makes the most of opportunities during this 200-meter sprint of a season, he could be bringing home more than just a defensive award in 2020.

A's add 17-year-old Robert Puason, five others to complete 60-man pool

A's add 17-year-old Robert Puason, five others to complete 60-man pool

The A’s announced the addition of six players to the 60-man player pool on Wednesday ahead of MLB Summer Camp.

Infielder Eric Campbell has been added to the group who will report to Oakland at the Coliseum.

Campbell hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2016 with the New York Mets, when he only hit .173 with nine RBI.

Right-handed pitchers Wandisson Charles and Miguel Romero, outfielders Luis Barrera and Brayan Buelvas and infielder Robert Puason will report to the A’s alternate site. 

Puason, 17, showed a lot of promise practicing in the A’s facility and has speed and fluidity in his defensive capabilities. 

The pool is now set at 60 players.

[RELATED: Projecting A's roster following initial player pool release]

Baseball started feeling back to normal when the A’s traded infielder Jorge Mateo on Tuesday to the San Diego Padres for a player to be named later.

The A’s have started to arrive for workouts, which begin on July 4 at the Coliseum and the alternate site.