The Oakland Athletics could wind up dealing for a starting pitcher, notes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco chronicle. Oakland has received outstanding performances from it's top trio of Sonny Gray (218 ERA+, 2.64 K/BB), Scott Kazmir (182 ERA+, 5.00 K/BB), and Jesse Chavez (203 ERA+, 5.13 K/BB) this year, however, they have been greatly hindered from the poor production at the back of the rotation from Tommy Milone, Dan Straily, and Josh Lindblom (for one start).
As Slusser points out, Oakland is currently 16-2 in games that Gray, Kazmir, or Chavez starts, however, they are just 2-9 when anybody else does. Their last trip through the rotation has been a great example of this. During the Athletics' series against the Rangers earlier this week, Gray, Kazmir, and Chavez combined to allow just four runs in Oakland's three-game sweep. However, during the team's last two games in Boston, the club has been outscored by a combined 13-4 tally. Straily allowed just two runs on Friday, but failed to make it out of the fifth inning, and Milone gave up six runs on Saturday.
Overall, Oakland's rotation has been quite good, with a 3.6 staff WAR that is just one-tenth of a win behind the Tigers for the top mark in baseball. They rank among baseball's best in nearly every statistical category, including ERA (3rd), FIP (6th), FIP- (5th), strikeout rate (9th), and walk rate (9th). The A's are currently 18-12, and sit two games ahead of the Rangers for first place in the AL West.
Slusser says that in order to acquire a starter, the A's could consider dealing a bat along the lines of John Jaso, who has been outplayed by Derek Norris so far this season. If they decide against making a trade, they could try and stretch out left-hander Drew Pomeranz, who was the key piece acquired in return for Brett Anderson this winter and has been excellent in relief this season (1.98 ERA in 13.2 innings).
If the Athletics do in fact decide to make a trade, it's highly unlikely that they go after a big name such as a David Price or Jeff Samardzija. Instead, guys like Jason Hammel or Ian Kennedy would seem to be more logical, due to their lesser price.