OAKLAND, Calif. — The Oakland Athletics could be providing a look into their future to an American League West rival when right-hander Raul Alcantara makes his major league debut Monday afternoon in the opener of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The 23-year-old, acquired by the A's along with Josh Reddick from Boston in 2011 for reliever Andrew Bailey, has been almost unhittable at Triple-A Nashville since an in-season promotion. He's gone 4-0 with a 1.18 ERA in his last eight starts, a stretch in which he's struck out 32 and walked just three.
“It's his time,” A's manager Bob Melvin proclaimed before Sunday's series finale against the Boston Red Sox. “We're excited about watching him.”
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The A's also will promote another of their top prospects, right-hander Jharel Cotton, to start Wednesday against the Angels.
Cotton was one of three pitchers acquired this season at the trade deadline from the Los Angeles Dodgers when the A's dealt away Reddick.
Alcantara will start in place of left-hander Sean Manaea, who is battling a sore back.
He can only hope to be as effective as Kendall Graveman was Sunday in a 1-0 win over the Boston Red Sox.
Graveman shut out the Red Sox on six hits over 6 1/3 innings, setting the stage for a walk-off win that allowed Oakland to snap a five-game losing streak.
Alcantara will be opposed by Angels right-hander Jered Weaver, who made his major league debut 10 seasons ago. He shut out the Baltimore Orioles on three hits over seven innings that night en route to an 11-2 rookie year.
The 33-year-old is just 10-11 with a 5.21 ERA this season, but both marks have improved significantly in his last two starts, during which he's beaten the Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds, allowing only three runs in 12 innings.
Weaver has gone 14-11 with a 2.77 ERA in 36 career starts against the A's. The ERA is his lowest among all teams he'd faced more than 15 times.
The veteran pitched a three-hit shutout in his previous visit to Oakland on June 19.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia made it clear after Weaver's previous start that he has no intention of replacing his top pitchers with prospects just because his club is out of playoff contention.
“Our philosophy and the way we're going to approach every day,” he said, “is to go out there and win a game by starting with the first pitch of the game and winning that pitch and winning situations and going out there and playing the game the way we need to play it.”
The Angels flew south from Seattle on Sunday night without right-hander Matt Shoemaker, who remained hospitalized for observation after being hit in the head by a line drive in LA's 4-2 win over the Mariners.
Shoemaker was diagnosed with a small skull fracture.
The Angels (61-75) won two of three in the series and have opened a three-game lead over the A's (58-79) in the battle to escape last place in the AL West.