While reports from Wednesday’s bullpen session had the A’s optimistic that Jharel Cotton would be ready to make Saturday’s start against the Atlanta Braves, Susan Slusser has reported that Cotton will be scratched due to the blister that sprung up during his last start. The blister popped up during his start on June 23 in a 3-0 win over the Chicago White Sox. The 25-year-old was pushed from his scheduled start on Thursday to Saturday, but he has now been scratched.
According to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Joe Stiglich, Cotton can throw all of his pitches, but the team isn’t confident in his ability to throw 100 pitches, so he’ll be pushed back.
Starting in his place will be Paul Blackburn, a Bay Area native. Blackburn was born in Antioch and raised in Brentwood. He was drafted by the Cubs in the first round of the 2012 draft out of Brentwood’s Heritage High School.
Blackburn was traded from the Cubs to Seattle in July 2016, and was traded to the A’s in November for Danny Valencia. Saturday will be Blackburn’s MLB debut. In 15 games for Nashville (14 starts), the 23-year-old Blackburn has a 3.05 ERA, limiting opponents to 69 hits over 79 2/3 innings. He has struck out 56 and walked 26.
It is unknown at this time if Cotton will be retroactively placed on the 10-day disabled list or if another pitcher, likely Josh Smith or Michael Brady, would be optioned to Triple-A to accommodate Blackburn.
Stiglich also noted that Chris Bassitt could return as a reliever for the remainder of 2017. Bassitt’s rehab from Tommy John surgery had been stalled as a precautionary measure. He threw one inning on Wednesday with Class-A Stockton.