After the 2012 and 2013 campaigns, it sure seemed like the Oakland A’s had found their new dynamic trio on the hill. A.J. Griffin, Jarrod Parker and Sonny Gray had hitters fooled and writers comparing them to another A’s trio, one featuring Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson. It appeared that Oakland was just doing Oakland things, cranking out pitchers from out of nowhere.
This story though, had a bit of a different ending. Sonny Gray has continued his climb as one of the games top pitchers, even finishing 3rd in the AL Cy Young race this past season. For Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, nothing seems to be falling in place.
After a solid 2013 campaign in which Jarrod Parker went 12-8 with a 3.97 ERA and 134 strikeouts, he was projected to be the Opening Day starter in 2014. Before the season though, it was announced the Fort Wayne native would need his second Tommy John surgery, a big roadblock in the career of an up-and-coming pitcher. It didn’t get easier, either. In 2015, while pitching on a rehab assignment, he fractured his elbow requiring more surgery. Parker was able to avoid another Tommy John. Jarrod Parker is still with the Oakland organization, but it’s a big question mark as to whether he’ll be able to return to a Major League mound.
A.J. Griffin has not been so lucky. After the 2013 season, he too figured to be in line for a top slot in the A’s rotation, but just like Jarrod Parker, he found himself needing Tommy John for flexor tendinitis in his right elbow. He went on to miss the 2014 season, and struggled to return in 2015 making only a handful of starts between Class A and Class AAA last year. While Jarrod Parker was able to keep his job in Oakland, A.J. Griffin was DFA’d in November, and subsequently released. His career isn’t quite over though. The Rangers decided to take a chance on him, and signed him to a minor league contract. For the 27-year-old pitcher, this is likely his final go. If he can’t get it together here, he’s probably through as an MLB pitcher. However, if he can rediscover the magic and the groove, he may be able to scratch and claw back into the big leagues with Texas.