The A’s announced Sunday, via MLB.com’s Jane Lee, that right-hander Sonny Gray will start on Opening Day, March 31, against the Indians.
He will be followed in the Oakland starting rotation by Scott Kazmir, Jesse Chavez, Dan Straily, and Tommy Milone — in that exact order.
Gray, 24, had a 2.67 ERA (140 ERA+), 1.019 WHIP, and 67 strikeouts in 64 innings last season. He then made two postseason starts, posting a 2.08 ERA and striking out 12 batters across 13 frames.
The 2014 Opening Day nod probably would have gone to Jarrod Parker, but he is out for the season after undergoing the second Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery of his career.
Chavez will be taking Parker’s spot, at least initially.
Athletics right-hander Jharel Cotton will undergo Tommy John surgery, per an announcement on Saturday. Cotton initially experienced some elbow soreness during a Cactus League start earlier this week and was officially diagnosed with a strained ulnar collateral ligament and strained flexor muscle on Thursday. He’ll be out of commission until 2019 at the earliest.
This isn’t the first time Cotton has dealt with elbow issues. According to MLB.com’s Jane Lee, he had screws inserted in his right elbow after sustaining a stress fracture in 2013 and suffered some minor elbow discomfort again last fall. Prior to his diagnosis, the 26-year-old was poised for his third run with the A’s in 2018. He pitched his first full season with the club in 2017, turning in a 5.58 ERA, 3.7 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 in 24 starts and 129 innings.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle adds that the team is open to adding pitching depth this spring, though they’ll wait to see if the price goes down on some free agents first. Barring that, right-handed long reliever Andrew Triggs could be tabbed to fill the fifth spot in the rotation.