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Monday, June 8, 2009
Pitching out West (AL)

Dave Cameron on a couple of burning questions ... Cameron follows the M's closely, so if he says Washburn's added a two-seam fastball, he probably has. That said, I'm just a little bit skeptical about Washburn's continued success, if only because if it were easy for a 34-year-old pitcher to turn his career around by adding one variation of a pitch he throws already, more of them would do it. But Washburn's striking out more batters while giving up fewer walks and homers, and at some point we have to take his performance at least semi-seriously.

Meanwhile, for the Athletics the progress does seem encouraging. I've been documenting the struggles of the young starters this spring -- and I have to admit that at one point I almost suggested that their pitching coach be fired -- but they now have two starters with K/BB ratios better than two, and another who's close. Cahill's overall numbers are still a mess, but in his last four starts he's struck out 18 and walked four. And Mazzaro, who struck out one and walked four in his first start, struck out four and walked none in his second start.

Even on the heels of a six-game winning streak, the A's are seven-and-a-half games out of first place. But if three of their young pitchers can grow a bit more, they still have a shot at getting back into contention.