OAKLAND — A.J. Griffin came to the Coliseum Tuesday believing he'd be one of the A's four starters in the American League Division Series against the Detroit Tigers.
He won't be. Thanks to an increasingly troublesome bout with tendinitis in his right arm, Griffin has been taken off the A's roster for the first round, although manager Bob Melvin said he is hopeful that Griffin would be a consideration for the second round, should the A's get that far.
If they do, it will be with a rotation composed of Bartolo Colon, Sonny Gray, Jarrod Parker and Dan Straily. Colon, the veteran, and Gray, the rookie, get the first two starts in the Coliseum Friday and Saturday. Parker and Straily will get the starts in Comerica Park in Motown Monday and Tuesday (barring a sweep).
The Tigers will counter with Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander in the two games in Oakland, then come back with ERA champ Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister in Detroit.
Griffin's removal from this round of the playoffs was a surprise, given that he'd won four of his last five decisions.
"It was news to me that I wasn't pitching," Griffin said. "They called me in today and told me they were shutting me down. I was planning on pitching whenever they wanted me to pitch, but it's their decision and they've been making good decisions all year."
Melvin said the right-hander had been pitching his last several starts while battling through "mild elbow tendinitis."
Colon gives the A's a veteran presence in the rotation that the club didn't have when facing the Tigers in Detroit to start the ALDS last year. He'd been with the A's for most of the 2012 season, but was out on a performance-enhancing drug suspension for the postseason.
That makes this time around special.
"It's really important for me," Colon said through interpreter Ariel Prieto when asked about pitching now after missing the 2012 postseason.
"I feel so happy. I'll do the best I can for the team."
Colon came back from the suspension to win 18 games and finish second in the league with a 2.65 ERA.
"He gives us a veteran presence to lead us that we didn't have at this time a year ago," manager Bob Melvin said. "Last year, these guys were all rookies. Now we've got a veteran going."
Gray, the rookie who pitched the clincher a week ago Sunday in Oakland, has much better numbers at home (3-1, 1.99) as opposed to on the road (2-2, 3.86). Melvin didn't cite the home/road differential as the reason for going with him, however.
He likes the fact that Gray is 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA in his last six starts. So when the manager told him Tuesday morning he'd start in the ALDS, Gray wasn't surprised. What did surprise him is the knowledge that he's pitching against Justin Verlander, who beat the A's twice in the ALDS last year.
"That'll be cool," Gray said. "He's a good pitcher and that's a tough matchup."
Parker was beaten up for eight runs in 3.1 innings by the Tigers in April, which was a rotten month for him. He's come back since the end of May to go 10-2 down the stretch and at one point was unbeaten for 19 consecutive starts. Straily came on strong as well, going 4-1 with a 2.00 ERA in his final six starts.