A’s mettle will be tested with suspension

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A’s mettle will be tested with suspension

PHOTO BY KEITH ALLISON/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

PHOTO BY KEITH ALLISON/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

PHOTO BY KEITH ALLISON/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

By TJ Porreca, MANAGING EDITOR

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The Oakland Athletics have dealt with some adversity this season in the way of injuries. But Oakland must now confront an issue that could define their 2019 season: the suspension of pitcher Frankie Montas.
Montas, 26, was likely destined for the MLB All Star game in July, if not for his suspension last weekend. Montas announced to the team, and Major League Baseball confirmed, that he tested positive for a banned substance in accordance with MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention program.
Major League Baseball issued Montas an 80-game suspension, without pay, after he tested positive for the banned substance Ostarine. The positive test came soon after Montas pitched eight innings and gave up just one run on June 20.
“The A’s were disappointed upon learning of this suspension. We fully support MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and we will welcome Frankie back after the discipline has been served,” the team said in a statement.
Montas, in a statement, said he took a supplement which he bought over the counter, and in the process he unknowingly ingested a banned substance.
While Montas will be eligible to return to the A’s by the end of September, he most notably would be ineligible to pitch in the postseason, should Oakland make the playoffs.
Montas had been Oakland’s best pitcher this season, carrying the staff with a 9-2 record and a 2.70 ERA prior to his suspension. The A’s now have to replace Montas’ production as the team remains in the wildcard hunt in the American League.
Oakland’s pitching depth thus far this season is already thin and depleted due to injuries. The ace of the staff, Sean Manaea, is still recovering from shoulder surgery. Closer Blake Treinen is currently on the 10-day injured list due to a shoulder injury. Two of Oakland’s best pitching prospects, Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk, began the season with injuries as well.
Of the two, Luzardo is farther along in his path to the Major Leagues, as he recovered from a shoulder strain and is currently pitching for Triple-A Las Vegas. Puk is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, after he tore the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his left elbow in March 2018. The injury has a typical recovery time of 12 to 18 months.
The suspension of Montas is the latest blow the A’s have been dealt, and it will test the team’s mettle over the next month. If Oakland falls out of contention, it’s reasonable to expect the team to trade off some of its assets by the July 31 trade deadline.
If the A’s can continue to gain ground in the standings and push for the playoffs in the coming months, the 2019 season may be considered even more successful than 2018. Last season, the A’s won 97 games and made the playoffs. But with all of the notable injuries and now the suspension to Montas, Oakland faces an uphill battle in the final three months of the season.