Frankie Montas

Possible options for A's to replace suspended starter Frankie Montas

Possible options for A's to replace suspended starter Frankie Montas

OAKLAND -- Frankie Montas was in the midst of a breakout season. At 9-2, with a 2.70 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, the A's right-hander even appeared destined to pitch in next month's All-Star Game.

Now, he won't pitch again until late September.

Montas was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for Ostarine, a banned performance-enhancing substance under Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Agreement. It's a devastating blow to the A's, who have struggled to piece together a starting rotation the last two seasons.

Oakland will now have to find a way to replace its best starting pitcher.

"We'll figure it out over the next few days," said A's general manager David Forst. "But I think if there's something this group has shown over the last year and a half, it's that 'next man up' is their motto. ... Every guy in the organization has shown the ability to step up and it led to a lot of great things last year and I think they're going to feel that same responsibility this time around."

If there's a silver lining for the A's, it's that talented left-handers Jesús Luzardo and Sean Manaea are both getting close to returning from injuries. Luzardo, the team's top prospect, will make a rehab start for Triple-A Las Vegas on Saturday as he continues to recover from a shoulder strain. Manaea, who was last year's ace, will likely head out on a rehab assignment next week as he works his way back from shoulder surgery.

Luzardo, 21, looked sharp in a pair of rehab appearances for High-A Stockton. In seven innings, he allowed just one run on six hits with 11 strikeouts and no walks. Luzardo still needs to be stretched out to at least 90 pitches, but he seems likely to join the A's sometime in July.

Manaea, 27, has thrown two simulated games in Arizona and has felt great after both. If he avoids any setbacks, he could also rejoin Oakland sometime next month.

A's number two prospect A.J. Puk is also nearing a return, but the left-hander is expected to pitch in a bullpen role. The 24-year-old will be on an innings limit following Tommy John surgery.

"We're going to have some guys coming back, and some high-profile guys coming back," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "As a team, we went through some adversity last year. This is a little bit different as far as that goes, but I don't think it takes away from the fact that we still expect to go out there and win. Somebody else will get an opportunity."

In the meantime, Oakland's starting rotation will consist of Mike Fiers, Brett Anderson, Chris Bassitt, and Tanner Anderson. The A's have an off-day Monday, meaning they could conceivably get by with four starters for the next week.

Whenever the A's do need a fifth starter, they will likely turn to either Daniel Mengden or Paul Blackburn, both currently in Triple-A. Right-hander Aaron Brooks could also serve as a number five starter. He made six starts for Oakland earlier this season before moving to a long relief role.

As Forst and Melvin mentioned, this A's squad has already shown it can overcome adversity. Last season, Oakland had to persevere through an endless barrage of injuries to starting pitchers, yet still found a way to win 97 games and reach the postseason.

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"(It's) adversity, but what do you do?" shrugged A's shortstop Marcus Semien. "You keep playing. Hopefully, we can find somebody to step in every fifth day and do well. We're going to play hard behind whoever that is and move on."

"Unfortunately, it was a guy who everybody is pretty close to here and a guy who's performed really well," Melvin added. "It's just something we're going to have to deal with."

A's GM David Forst disappointed by Frankie Montas PED suspension news

A's GM David Forst disappointed by Frankie Montas PED suspension news

OAKLAND -- Following the incredible high of Thursday night's heart-stopping comeback victory, the A's sunk to the lowest of lows less than 24 hours later.

On Friday, the team found out they would be without ace starting pitcher Frankie Montas for the next 80 games after he tested positive for Ostarine, a banned substance under Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Agreement. Montas is also ineligible for the postseason.

"It's disappointing on a number of levels," said A's general manager David Forst. "Obviously, I'm personally disappointed in Frankie. I'm disappointed for his teammates and for this team who have worked very hard in the first half of the season, played very well of late, and I know have high expectations for themselves going forward. It's disappointing."

Montas had been enjoying a breakout season, going 9-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 15 starts. He pitched eight dominant innings Thursday night against the Rays, allowing just one run on four hits with nine strikeouts.

"He was very disappointed in himself," Forst said. "He was apologetic. He feels like he let his teammates and the organization down. I appreciated that sentiment, but at that point, there wasn't much we could do."

According to Forst, Montas has known about the positive test for a while and believes the right-hander went through an appeal process, which ultimately proved unsuccessful.

Montas, 26, released a statement through the MLB Players Association, saying, in part: "While I never intended to take any prohibited substance, I unfortunately and unknowingly ingested a contaminated supplement that I had purchased over-the-counter at a nutrition store here in the United States. That said, I respect MLB rules and understand my responsibilities under the Joint Drug Agreement, and accept full responsibility."

Forst noted that players are well-educated on the Joint Drug Agreement and are instructed to always check with the team before taking a supplement.

"One of the things they're specifically told is, before you put anything in your body, check with the training and strength staff," Forst said. "There's, I would say, constant communication about this kind of thing. They receive a lot of paperwork and documentation in spring training. The medical staff -- both training and strength and conditioning -- talk to them about it, and their union speaks to them about it."

After Montas revealed the news to Forst Friday morning, he met privately with A's manager Bob Melvin, and then with his teammates.

"I think it was a shock to everybody today," Melvin said. "We met as a team and Frankie spoke and was very remorseful. He's going to accept what he has to deal with and feels bad about it."

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Added A's shortstop Marcus Semien: "Just breaking the news to us and then apologizing. We don't have him till September, so apologizing for his mistake. He's going to serve his suspension, come back, and hopefully, he can move past it. ... He was our ace. I just hope that he can stay strong during this time and comes back ready to go."

The A's have not yet decided who will take Montas' place in the starting rotation. In the meantime, Oakland recalled right-handed reliever J.B. Wendelken from Triple-A Las Vegas to take Montas' spot on the 25-man roster.

A's vs. Rays lineups: Tanner Anderson gets second start against Tampa

A's vs. Rays lineups: Tanner Anderson gets second start against Tampa

Matt Chapman was still shaking when the media scrum found him in the A's clubhouse Thursday night. That's because he hit the team's fifth walk-off home run of the season in a 5-4 win to extend the team's win streak to four.

But that high came to a screeching halt when the team announced right-handed pitcher Frankie Montas received an 80-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy.

The A's will continue its series against the Rays in Oakland with young Tanner Anderson taking the bump in his third start of the season, and second against Tampa. He finished with a loss in his first big-league start on June 10 but fared well holding the team to just two runs.

Andrew Kittredge gets starting honors for the Rays and will serve as an opener.

This is how the lineups look to shape up for the Friday night matchup. You can follow on NBC Sports California or by downloading and streaming on the MyTeams app:

Tampa Bay Rays (43-32)

Brandon Lowe, 2B
Tommy Pham, LF
Ji-Man Choi, 1B
Austin Meadows, DH
Travis d'Arnaud, C
Kevin Kiermaier, CF
Willy Adames, SS
Joey Wendle, 3B
Guillermo Heredia, RF

Andrew Kittredge, P (0-0, 5.40 ERA)

Oakland A's (40-36)

Marcus Semien, SS
Matt Chapman, 3B
Matt Olson, 1B
Khris Davis, DH
Ramón Laureano, CF
Jurickson Profar, 2B
Stephen Piscotty, RF
Chad Pinder, LF
Josh Phegley, C

Tanner Anderson, P (0-1, 3.27 ERA)