Athletics

Source: A's unlikely to re-sign reliever Shawn Kelley in free agency

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USATSI

Source: A's unlikely to re-sign reliever Shawn Kelley in free agency

Shawn Kelley played a significant role in the A's stellar bullpen last season, but NBC Sports California has learned the veteran right-hander is unlikely to re-sign with Oakland.

Kelley, 34, has reportedly been in talks with about 10 teams, and his agent Mike McCann confirmed to NBC Sports California that the A's are not among those clubs.

The two sides did have conversations earlier this offseason but have not spoken since Oakland signed right-hander Joakim Soria to a two-year, $15 million deal nearly a month ago.

Kelley earned $5.5 million last season and is projected to get a similar amount next year. As much as the A's would like to bring him back, they have identified starting pitching as a higher priority.

After joining the A's from the Washington Nationals last year, Kelley went 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in 19 games. Overall, he finished the season 2-0 with a 2.94 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 54 appearances.

He has a career ERA of 3.67 in 10 big league seasons.

Even without Kelley, the A's will boast one of the strongest bullpens in baseball next season. Oakland will bring back All-Star closer Blake Treinen, as well as setup men Fernando Rodney, Lou Trivino, J.B. Wendelken, and Ryan Buchter.

The addition of Soria will add even more depth to the group.

The A's would ideally like to sign another left-handed reliever to join Buchter in the pen, but again, starting pitching is the top priority.

Veteran starters Edwin Jackson and Brett Anderson are both still in the mix to return, though nothing appears imminent.

A's starting pitchers taming Tigers, rest of American League in May

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AP

A's starting pitchers taming Tigers, rest of American League in May

The A's weakness this season was supposed to be their rotation. Recently, they've bucked that notion.

Daniel Mengden is the latest A's starting pitcher to have a dominant outing. He went seven innings Saturday in Oakland's 4-1 win in Detroit, and only allowed one earned run while striking out five. 

"He's got good stuff, he can mix his pitches really well," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Mengden after the win. "He's a true four-pitch guy."

In the last month, the A's five-man mix of Mengden, Frankie Montas, Mike Fiers, Chris Bassitt and Brett Anderson has been among the best in the American League. 

Mengden followed a career first for Montas. On Friday, Montas pitched into the ninth inning for the first time in his career and struck out a career-high 10 batters. 

"We knew he had a lot of talent in him, but he's taking it to another level right now," Melvin told reporters Friday when asked about Montas' start.

Coming into their four-game road series with the Tigers, the A's had lost three in a row. They're now riding a three-game win streak, thanks to their starting arms. The trio of Bassitt, Montas and Mengden combined to throw 23 2/3 innings while allowing only three earned runs. They also struck out 22 batters and only walked four.

And the A's soon could have more help on the way.

[RELATED: Melvin raves about Montas after longest outing of his career]

Jharel Cotton pitched in his first rehab assignment in Class A for the Stockton Ports on Thursday. Sean Manaea quietly has been throwing bullpens, and top prospect Jesus Luzardo threw his first bullpen Tuesday, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday.

Oakland's starting pitchers' ERA now is just outside the top five in the American League. Though they're still in the bottom of the AL West, the A's are trending up, with reinforcements coming down the road.

A's vs. Tigers lineup: Khris Davis scratched from matinee at Comerica Park

A's vs. Tigers lineup: Khris Davis scratched from matinee at Comerica Park

The A's arrived in Detroit looking for something to snap them out of their funk, and they found exactly what they were looking for in the struggling Tigers.

Bob Melvin's club pummeled the Tigers 17-3 in Game 1 of the series Thursday, and Frankie Montas struck out a career-high 10 batters to lead Oakland to a 7-3 win Friday.

The A's lineup will look a little different Saturday at Comerica Park, though.

Khris Davis initially was scheduled to be in the lineup batting cleanup, but he was scratched from the order and replaced by Robbie Grossman. Grossman will bat sixth and play left field, and Stephen Piscotty will take over Davis’ designated hitter role and bat fourth.

Davis was scratched because of his sore left hip and is day to day. 

Oakland will give the ball to right-hander Daniel Mengden on Saturday. Mengden gave up four runs in 5 1/3 innings during a 5-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians in his first start after being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas.

Here are the full lineups for Saturday's A's vs. Tigers game: 

Oakland Athletics (21-25)
Marcus Semien, SS
Mark Canha, 1B
Matt Chapman, 3B
Stephen Piscotty, DH
Chad Pinder, RF
Robbie Grossman, LF
Ramon Laureano, CF
Jurickson Profar, 2B
Nick Hundley, C

Daniel Mengden, RHP (0-1, 6.75 ERA)

[RELATED: Olson's power hasn't been affected by hand surgery]

Detroit Tigers (18-25)
Josh Harrison, 2B
Dawal Lugo, 3B
Nicholas Castellanos, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Ronny Rodriguez, SS
Christin Stewart, LF
Brandon Dixon, DH
Grayson Greiner, C
JaCoby Jones, CF

Matthew Boyd, LHP (4-3, 3.15 ERA)