A’s pick rookie Jarrod Parker to start Game 1 against Tigers

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Fittingly for a team that has relied so heavily on rookie pitchers all season the A’s have picked the youngest starter on the staff, 23-year-old Jarrod Parker, to take the mound in Game 1 of the ALDS against Justin Verlander and the Tigers.

Parker, who was acquired from the Diamondbacks as part of the Trevor Cahill deal in December, threw 181 innings with a 3.47 ERA and 140/63 K/BB ratio while allowing just 11 homers.

Fellow rookie Tommy Milone will get the Game 2 start after the 25-year-old left-hander acquired from the Nationals in the Gio Gonzalez trade logged 190 innings with a 3.74 ERA and 137/36 K/BB ratio.

Oakland kicking off its first playoff series since 2006 by relying on a pair of rookie starters acquired in offseason trades for established starters sounds just about right.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.