Less than 24 hours after arguably the best start of his breakout campaign, A’s right-hander Frankie Montas has been suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball for the use of performance enhancing drugs. Montas, who tested positive for Ostarine, responded by saying that he unknowingly purchased the supplement over-the-counter. The right-hander was enjoying a dominant season as Oakland’s top starter, and now leaves his club in jeopardy as he loses eligibility for all but six games for the rest of this season.
The suspension is undoubtedly a devastating blow to the Athletics, who lose the 26-year-old flamethrower for nearly the rest of the regular season and all of the postseason should they get there. Montas was rapidly solidifying himself as not only Oakland’s top starter, but one of the top young hurlers in baseball, going 9-2 with a 2.70 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 2.86 FIP with 97 strikeouts over 90 IP. Large improvements with his location and command have been a big reason for his success, along with a new splitter added to his arsenal that’s led Montas to inducing ground balls at a 50.8% clip.
While Oakland entered the season with lots of uncertainty surrounding its starting rotation, A’s starters have held up their end throughout the first half of 2019. Atop that rotation has sat Frankie Montas, who will now leave the role up for grabs for the remainder of the season. So far, Oakland starters have combined for a 4.02 ERA (9th best in MLB) and 39 wins (4th). Along with Montas, the biggest contributors for the A’s have been Mike Fiers, Brett Anderson and Chris Bassitt, awaiting the arrivals of top prospects Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk, and also the returns of injured Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton.
The A’s stand with a 40-36 record, currently just one game out of a Wild Card spot and eight games behind the AL West-leading Astros. Frankie Montas has been a very big reason for the survival of A’s pitching, however now leaves due to suspension in the middle of the season. Oakland will look for its other starters to step up for Montas as he sits out for nearly the rest of the season without eligibility for any postseason games that the A’s may play in.
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