ATLANTA -- In his first real opportunity as a regular member of a starting rotation, Jesse Chavez gave the A's the best work of his career. He compiled a 3.44 ERA in 21 turns in the rotation, notching eight victories and 11 quality starts.
The Athletics then acquired Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel in a flurry of July trades, relegating Chavez to his accustomed role as a long reliever. But Chavez has remained productive, posting a 1.86 ERA in five relief outings.
"He does a nice job for us whatever role he's in and it's not easy doing that," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "... It's not easy to do what he does, and he always keeps a great focus and intensity to him no matter what role he's in."
Chavez's two years in Oakland have been his best. His 3.92 ERA last year was a career-best and also very unlucky as he posted a personal-best 3.01 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), which measures what a pitcher's ERA would be had he gotten league average results on balls in play and league average timing.
He owns a 3.33 ERA entering Saturday night's game due to his ability to handle the nuances of both roles, which means preparing for each game as part of the bullpen the same way he approached his outings as a starter.
"You've just got to prepare yourself the same way, whether it be throwing more breaking balls and offspeed pitches while you're playing catch before batting practice because you really can't get off the mound and throw it as much as you want because you never know as a long reliever when you're going to be needed," Chavez said. "So I think that's the hardest part, being prepared every day."
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.