A's set DS rotation, giving veteran Colon Game 1 call
Gray to follow in Oakland; Parker gets Game 3, then Straily in for ailing Griffin
OAKLAND -- As formidable as Detroit's pitching staff looks, the A's believe their own is equally capable of locking up an American League Division Series win.
The quest begins in Oakland on Friday (6:30 p.m. PT, TBS) with veteran Bartolo Colon getting the nod against Tigers 20-game winner Max Scherzer.
Rookie Sonny Gray will start Game 2 at the Coliseum, with Jarrod Parker in line to take the mound for Game 3 at Comerica Park in Detroit. Should a fourth game be necessary, the A's will turn to another rookie in Dan Straily.
"I like our rotation as well as any rotation in the league," said manager Bob Melvin. "I'm probably biased. If you look at the numbers, they [the Tigers] probably have the best rotation. We don't really look at it as a five-game snapshot. We look more at it as a matchup on the particular day and what our chances are to win that particular day. And I like our chances every day."
A.J. Griffin, who was expected to get the nod over Straily, is dealing with elbow tendinitis, according to Melvin, and won't be available until the AL Championship Series, should the A's get past the Tigers this time.
Melvin said the decision to start the series with the 40-year-old Colon, who ranked second in the AL in wins (18) and ERA (2.65) through 30 starts, was "an easy one."
"He's been our ace all season," Melvin continued. "The numbers, the performance, the way he's pitching now. All of the above. We're lucky enough to have a veteran guy like that who's pitching as well as he has to go out there for us the first day."
Colon will be making his fourth career ALDS Game 1 start, but first since 2005, when he got the ball for the Angels in a matchup with the Yankees. He has a 3.61 career postseason ERA.
Gray, on the other hand, has just 12 big league appearances under his belt, including 10 starts. The 23-year-old rookie, Oakland's first-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, went 5-3 with a 2.67 ERA in his first season, including 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA in six starts at home, which was a big factor when A's management gathered to line up the rotation.
By allowing Gray to start at home, they can pitch the more experienced Parker, who started the first and fifth games of last year's ALDS, on the road.
"We think Jarrod's a little better suited to pitch in Detroit," Melvin said. "Not that anybody else couldn't, but he has before. He pitched the first game there last year. It's a little different environment, so we'll pitch Sonny in Game 2 here at home, where he's pitched before.
"They were all going to pitch. It was just a matter of when we thought was best for the team and best for each pitcher."
"We're all really excited," said Gray, who will oppose Justin Verlander, winner of Games 1 and 5 last year. "I feel comfortable pitching anywhere. It's not like I had to pitch at home. I'll be ready to pitch whenever and wherever."
For Straily, who will also pitch in Detroit if the series goes to four games, this could mark his first career postseason appearance.
"I'm definitely excited for the opportunity and ready to go," Straily said. "Hopefully it works out best for the team that I'm not needed for the right reasons. It's going to be a long week of waiting, though."
Detroit's starters finished the season with an AL-best 3.44 ERA. The A's ranked second at 3.72.
"We're very confident in them," said Brandon Moss. "Our guys are right up there with their guys. Obviously, you look at them, and their names are bigger, and their list of accolades is better, but our guys have had just as good of a year. How things match up on paper aren't always how they turn out in the game. The game is played on the field and not on paper. Hopefully we can move past these guys this year."
"I'm always confident in our rotation," Straily said. "They have a good group of guys, and we have a good group of guys. I feel like it's going to be a really good series."