Road trips are hard, especially long, east coast road trips. So a 5-5 road trip really isn’t that bad. But it sure feels bad considering the A’s started the trip winning four in a row and then proceeded to go 1-5 the rest of the way, including dropping three out of four in the most recent four-game series in Detroit. And though the A’s usually have strong starting pitching, it was the starting pitching that mostly failed them in this series.

bassittFirst, on Monday, Kendall Graveman allowed six earned runs and 10 hits in just 4 2/3 innings pitched. Then on Wednesday, Sonny Gray had the shortest outing of his career, going just two innings and giving up four earned runs. Then on Thursday, Chris Bassitt gave us seven earned runs in 3 2/3 innings pitched. Rich Hill was the only starter to turn in a quality performance this series, as he had another stellar showing on Tuesday night with seven shutout innings and eight strikeouts. The veteran lefty saved the A’s from being swept out of Detroit.

Graveman and Gray’s outings are not worrisome, appear to just be blips on the radar, but Bassitt’s rough game – his second in a row – was apparently a sign of larger problems as the A’s placed him on the 15-day disabled list today with a strained elbow. That doesn’t sound good when we know what elbow issues can lead to. I hope that we see him back soon, but in the meantime, the A’s have reinforcements.

Sean_Manaea_d0k07v16_7wxpr5aoThe first of the reinforcements is the man we’re all excited about, top prospect Sean Manaea, who will get the start tonight against Houston, making his major league debut. Manaea looks to take the fifth starter job from the recently demoted Eric Surkamp. The 24-year-old lefty has a 1.50 ERA through three starts at Triple-A Nashville and is clearly ready for the bigs. It’s hard not to be overly optimistic about a big prospect, and I’m sure he’ll have his ups and downs, but I’m really looking forward to watching him pitch every fifth day.

We also got word that Jesse Hahn will be back up to start Saturday’s game. Hahn will effectively take Bassitt’s spot in the rotation, pushing Graveman, Hill, and Gray all back a day. A little extra rest is always nice when you can get it. And Hahn has been very solid in Nashville as well, posting a 2.04 ERA in four starts.

So the rotation gets revamped a little and the A’s are back home after a long road trip, ready to take on the surprisingly scuffling Houston Astros. The rest of the A.L. West is hovering around .500 while the Astros occupy the cellar at an A.L. worst 7-15. Hopefully they don’t find what they’ve been missing until after this weekend. The A’s, on the other hand, are just 3-7 at home, so something is going to give. Go A’s…

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