No one in the world is harder on James Kaprielian than the Athletics pitcher himself.
Even after throwing seven innings and not surrendering a run in a win over the Seattle Mariners last week, Kaprielian disagreed with A's manager Bob Melvin that the right-hander had exceeded expectations so far in his MLB career.
Against those same Mariners on Sunday, Kaprielian had his shortest start of the season so far, going just 3 2/3 innings and allowing four earned runs and three walks. In his postgame media availability, Kaprielian was visibly frustrated with his performance.
"Not my best stuff and disappointed in myself for sure, and I expect myself to be able to go attack guys a little better and I kinda got away from that a little bit today," the 27-year-old told reporters after Monday's loss in Seattle.
Kaprielian didn't earn his first loss of the 2021 season, as the A's rallied to tie the game and even pulled ahead in the 10th inning before the Mariners scored a pair of runs to walk it off in the bottom half.
The two plunked batters and three walks, in particular, left Kaprielian in a sour mood.
"That's what bums me out the most about this start is giving guys the free 90 feet. I made a couple mistakes and probably threw guys a couple pitches that I hadn't done, but it's the free 90 feet, the walks, the hit-by-pitches. I'm better than that, I know I am, and that blows innings out of proportion a little bit. That's what makes those one-run innings a four-run inning. So didn't do a good job of controlling that."
Kaprielian ended up throwing 81 pitches in fewer than four innings, and was pulled after a Kyle Lewis double pushed Seattle's lead out to 4-1. Melvin said the plan was to limit Kaprielian's pitch count regardless, but he was encouraged by the young right-hander's strong start to Monday's outing.
"It was just the one big inning, because he got off to a really good start, he got some strikeouts, he got some swings and misses, and walked some guys and then obviously gave up some runs," Melvin said after the game.
Over four starts so far in 2021, Kaprielian is 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA. Over 21 1/3 innings, the former UCLA Bruin has a 22:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio and Monday was the first of his four outings that the A's weren't able to win.
A former first-round draft pick, Kaprielian clearly isn't satisfied with how he has performed so far this season. Even with three good performances and one disappointing one, the right-hander sounds motivated.
Oakland will need Kaprielian to maintain his solid start to the season as the race in the AL West tightens up.