ARLINGTON -- Dan Straily has never faced the Texas Rangers and he'll get a chance to do so in the biggest game of his career. Well, until the next time he takes the mound this season.
Straily, a right-handed pitcher, was supposed to take the mound in New York on Saturday but the A's decided to go with southpaw Travis Blackley instead. The Yankees have more left-handed hitters and a dangerous short porch in right field. The Rangers are stacked with righties and the team decided they would be better suited playing the match ups. The decision to swap Blackley in for Straily came prior to the game on Wednesday in which Brett Anderson was lost for the rest of the regular season with a right oblique strain.
Straily is now starting in Anderson's turn in the rotation. With starting pitchers Brandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon, and Anderson all lost for the remainder of the regular season he has an opportunity to prove he belongs in the rotation.
"It's all about winning and it's not my job to decide when to pitch," Straily said on Saturday. "The Rangers have a righty heavy lineup and it's one of those deals that I have no control over. Whenever I get the ball I am going to go out there and compete." Straily, a rookie, is equally eager to take the mound in Texas as he would have been in New York. Both teams have explosive offenses, homer friendly ballparks and are tough to beat at home. A true test for a young pitcher either way. "It makes no difference to me," Straily said. "I love competing and I hate not getting a chance to go out there. They saw the match ups, it's been working all year and why change what's been working." Straily hasn't pitched since September 16 against Baltimore. He allowed four runs, two homers, and five walks in that start. The A's had won in each of his five prior starts, and he was saddled with his first career loss.
He also gave up two home runs in his previous start in Anaheim against the Angels, but struck out eight batters and got the win. Straily went 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in his first three starts with the A's but was sent to Triple-A on August 20 when Anderson came off the disabled list.
After getting sent down he pitched on extra rest and was held to a strict pitch count to keep his arm fresh. Pitching on extra rest is an adjustment for him and he will take the mound against Texas on eight days of rest. "I think it's something I am getting used to and just approach coming up to a start differently," Straily said. "I felt in Anaheim that I had to shake the rust off a little bit. This game is all about adversity and that is just another aspect of it." After struggling in his last start he says he had a really good side session while in Detroit and feels like he ironed things out. He hopes the results will show in Texas. If it doesn't it won't be for a lack of preparation."I've been watching video and taking notes, I spent the last couple of days doing that," Straily said. "It's down to me and the catcher executing pitches because that is something I failed to do in the last outing. I was up in the zone or I was way out of the zone and so it's something I've focused on."Fellow rookie Jarrod Parker, also 23, took the mound in the Bronx and lasted eight innings of one-run ball against the Yankees vaunted lineup on Friday, a performance that Straily said he was inspired by. Parker was born on November 24, 1985. Straily's birthday is December 1. "It's good to see," Straily said. "You can't get much closer on the team in age. It's good to see another guy just go out there and be as successful as anyone else." With Parker's poise as an example, good friend and fellow rotation-mate A.J. Griffin to keep him loose, and the expert guidance of pitching coach Curt Young, Straily could have a winning recipe on Monday. It'll just come down to execution.