"There's a pride factor in being able to do that, and not many guys do that anymore, go out there and make every single start during the course of the season," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He's pitched some of his best baseball and some of his deepest games in the second half of the season. It's been impressive to watch."
Graveman capped his season with a 5 2/3-inning outing against the postseason-hopeful Mariners, settling on a no-decision in a 3-2 A's loss after allowing just one run on seven hits with six strikeouts and a walk. He finishes with a 4.11 ERA, including a 3.50 ERA in his final 19 starts.
Over that stretch, Graveman gave the A's at least six innings on 14 occasions, twice going the distance with nine innings. In all, the 25-year-old tallied 186 innings -- 46 more than he posted between Triple-A and Oakland as a rookie last year, following his trade from Toronto in the Josh Donaldson deal.
"Last year, not being able to make every start and then coming back this year and proving that I can and continue to stay healthy, I think that's the biggest thing," Graveman said. "Not only that, but the mentality of not being rushed when I'm out there sometimes, not being frantic. I think I was able to slow the game down this year and felt a lot more comfortable on the mound throughout the year."
Graveman stepped up as the team's de facto ace when a struggling Sonny Gray went down to injury, and he thrived in the job.
"You always need a guy that you look at as your guy, that when he goes out there, your team feels like it's got its best chance to win," Melvin said, "He's taken over that role and embraced it, and I think he's proud of the fact that he's that guy right now."
Last year, Graveman was often roughed up when the going got tough; trouble quickly escalated to disaster, and the right-hander subsequently fought to keep hold of his confidence. His sophomore season saw him mature in this way, treating each start as a learning process from which he can make adjustments.
After each outing, Graveman said, first base coach Mike Aldrete would ask him, "What'd you learn?"
Seeking answers against the Mariners was no easy task, signifying what Graveman was able to do Thursday. Entering the contest, he was 0-3 with a 7.47 ERA against them this season.
"We made an adjustment and we started to pitch in and said, if they're going to beat us, they're going to beat us throwing the fastball in," Graveman said. "They stack a lot of lefties in on you and you can kind of get in the pattern of throwing away, away, away, and they start to see it out there and put some good swings on it, but for the most part I thought we commanded it very well tonight."