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Joe Boyle To Begin Season In A’s Rotation

Joe Boyle To Begin Season In A's Rotation

A’s right-hander Joe Boyle is set to open the season in the Oakland rotation, manager Mark Kotsay told reporters (including John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle) this evening. He’ll be the club’s fifth starter behind veterans Alex Wood, Ross Stripling, and Paul Blackburn as well as southpaw JP Sears.

Boyle, 24, was a fifth-round pick by the Reds in the 2020 draft and made his big league debut with the A’s back in September. The hulking 6’7”, 240-pound hurler made the most of a three-start cup of coffee down the stretch in 2023 as he pitched to a sterling 1.69 ERA with a 3.13 FIP across 16 innings of work. In that time, Boyle struck out 25% of batters faced while walking 8.3%. Both of those rates were noticeably lower than his minor league numbers. The right-hander’s powerful arsenal, headlined by a triple-digit fastball, allowed him to breeze through the minor leagues with a career 35.4% strikeout rate at the time of his call-up. That being said, he also struggled badly with his control throughout his time in the minors; his MLB debut was the first time he had walked less than 10% of the batters he faced at any level since his seven-inning stint in rookie ball back in 2021.

Given the excellent start to his big league career back in September, it’s perhaps not a shock to see the A’s offer him a chance to claim a more permanent spot in the rotation to open the season. With that being said, Boyle’s work this spring did little to inspire confidence in his ability to maintain his command as a starting pitcher. Boyle posted a worrisome 5.89 ERA across six starts and 18 1/3 innings of work this spring. While spring training stats typically aren’t particularly indicative of regular season performance, the fact that Boyle walked a whopping 15 batters during camp is sure to raise some eyebrows in conjunction with the control issues he demonstrated during his time in the minor leagues.

It’s not the first time in recent years the A’s have offered a high-octane arm with concerns regarding his command a spot in their Opening Day rotation; right-hander Shintaro Fujinami signed with the club out of Japan last winter and four disastrous starts with the club before being moved to the bullpen. Fujinami walked 12 batters while posting a 14.40 ERA in 15 innings of work across those four turns through the rotation, but after his pronounced struggles to begin the season managed to settle into a bullpen role with a 3.94 ERA and 3.71 FIP in his…

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