The A's pitching is the reason for the moderate amount of success they've had so far. They've allowed 4.4 runs a game, which is good for 6th in the AL, and have overcome injuries to Brett Anderson, Justin Duchscherer, Michael Wuertz, and Joey Devine.
Let's get to the grades (ordered by innings pitched). We'll kick things off with Mr. Perfect, Dallas Braden.
Dallas Braden - A+
Braden's given the A's everything they could have hoped for this season and more. ERA in the threes? Check. Eating innings? Check. Impeccable control (third best BB/9 in the majors)? Check. Oh, and perfect game? Check.
Ben Sheets - C+
Sheets is a tough case. He's had some good starts and some bad ones, though his bad starts have been really bad and his good starts haven't been particularly inspiring. His ERA is an ugly 5.66, his strikeouts are down, and his walks are up. Still, he's taken the ball every fifth day after missing all of 2009. He's clearly not the pitcher he was before the injury, but maybe he can learn to succeed with the diminished stuff he has now.
Gio Gonzalez - B+
Coming into the Spring Training Gio had to battle Trevor Cahill for the fifth starter job and didn't win it until the last days of the Spring. He's responded by pitching quite well, posting a solid 4.05 ERA so far. He's still struggled a bit with his control and his pitch efficiency, but I'm quite pleased by how he's performed so far and optimistic about what he'll do the rest of the year.
Justin Duchscherer - INC
Well, I'd probably give Duchscherer a B for his work in the first quarter of the season. He was able to make five starts, three of which went really well. Extrapolate that to a full season and you've got 20 starts from Duke. Unfortunately, these five starts are quite possibly the last that he's made in 2010 and potentially his last ever in the big leagues. Here's hoping for a comeback, but things are not looking good so far.
Tyson Ross - A-
Yes his ERA is a mediocre 4.39. But he's become a life saver after being a surprise addition to the A's Opening Day roster. He looked quite good out of the pen and quickly rose from mop up duty to pitching in tight spots late in games. His emergency starts have been less than stellar, but he was able to provide some innings when they were badly needed. He looks to have a solid future in Oakland, maybe not as a starter, but he has the makings of a quality pitcher.
Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill - INC
Like Duchscherer, Anderson had a handful of good starts before landing on the DL. Thankfully, Anderson's recovery is going much better than Duke's. He's thrown off a mound and is on track to return in about two weeks.
Cahill essentially took Anderson's place in the rotation and has made four starts so far. His first was disastrous, giving up 8 runs in five innings. His last three starts, however, were pretty decent. He's still not striking many batters out, but he is getting a ton of grounders and his control seems better than last year. Hopefully, he can replicate his recent success because Cahill will likely be in the rotation for as long as Duke is out, which could be the rest of the year.
Brad Ziegler - B+
Ziggy's been successful when Geren's deployed him against righties. Right handers are hitting just .157 off of him and have yet to homer. Unfortunately, Geren's used him too frequently against lefties in tough spots. They're hitting .262 off of him, have walked four times, and homered twice. There was some hope that he'd improved against lefties, but he is what he is --- a great weapon against right handed hitters.
Craig Breslow - B+
Breslow's been death to left handers so far this season. He's faced 31 lefties and given up only 5 hits; he's struck out 12 and walked only 2. Unfortunately, he's been less successful against righties, facing 35 of them, giving up 7 hits, two homers, walking five, and only striking out five. Coming into the year I thought he'd be better against righties, though we're still looking at a small sample size. At worst, he and Ziegler make a strong late inning pair, setting up for...
Andrew Bailey - A-
Perhaps I'm punishing Bailey for the high expectations I had given his superb 2009 campaign. After all, he's pitched 15.2 innings and his ERA is 1.15. Still, there are a number of troubling trends, most notably his strikeout rate. He's only fanned 8 batters so far, and though it's in a small number of innings, I'd obviously like that figure to be much higher. I'm not worried yet, but if he's not striking out more guys by midseason, I may be concerned.
All others - INC
Chad Gaudin and Edwar Ramirez pitched poorly early in the season and have recently been designated for assignment. Vin Mazzaro, Michael Wuertz, and Cedric Bowers haven't pitched enough innings to judge their performances. Jerry Blevins has thrown 14 innings, but those were mostly low leverage situations and I don't feel justified giving him a grade yet. Brad Kilby and Henry Rodriguez have also made brief appearances with the A's so far.
UPDATE: The A's have released Chad Gaudin and outrighted Edwar Ramirez to Sacramento.