Melvin dealing with limited starting options

Melvin dealing with limited starting options

OAKLAND -- The A's only have so many starting options these days, magnifying another disappointing outing from left-hander Eric Surkamp in a 10-6 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday night.

The A's have given Surkamp seven auditions this season, each time hoping for improvement, but he was unable to complete five innings in six of them. That he couldn't go four on Tuesday meant Oakland needed to ask 6 2/3 innings of its bullpen, including one from right-hander Zach Neal, believed to be a candidate to start this weekend in place of the injured Sean Manaea.

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Neal could remain in play for Saturday or Sunday against the Angels, but that's less than ideal for the A's, who are simply trying to get by with as many healthy bodies as they can these days.

They've already used eight starting pitchers over the last 17 games.

"We're limited on starters right now, so we'll take a look and see where we are tomorrow and come up with a guy for Saturday," manager Bob Melvin said.

Rich Hill (groin) is on the disabled list for at least another two weeks, while Chris Bassitt and Felix Doubront will remain there all year while recovering from Tommy John surgery. That seemingly leaves right-hander Jesse Hahn as the only other option on the 40-man roster, though he was optioned to Triple-A Nashville on Friday and would only be allowed to return sooner than the 10-day window if the A's added a player to the DL.

As for Surkamp, he could be handed another start on Sunday, since the A's don't have another off-day until Monday. He is 0-4 with a 8.07 ERA to this point in the Majors, compared with his 3-1 record and 3.07 ERA in five starts for Nashville.

"For a team this year where so many guys have gotten injured, there's been plenty of opportunity here for me throughout the season, and I haven't done anything with it," Surkamp said. "It's super frustrating. Just haven't been able to put together that success like I have at the Minor League level up here."

"You go back and forth until you pitch well enough to stay here," Melvin said. "He has pitched well in the Minor Leagues, he just hasn't done it here at this point."

Surkamp scattered seven hits in Tuesday's loss, with two home runs accounting for four runs. He issued walks to two batters, and both scored.

The A's have a Major League-leading 22 starts of fewer than five innings.

"We need these guys coming up and throwing well for us. But it's also tough on them," catcher Josh Phegley said. "Flying back and forth -- I mean, I think Surkamp said he hasn't been back to Nashville in a month and a half, because he comes back here and then he's on the road and then he comes back here. That's a tough schedule. But hopefully, we can find some consistency sometime and get these guys rolling and feeling comfortable."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for since 2010. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.