Aaron Brooks took the Oracle Park mound Tuesday night with a roster spot on the line. The A's right-hander made the most of his opportunity.
Brooks, 28, pitched 5 1/3 strong innings, limiting the Giants to one run on five hits and two walks, striking out five. After the game, A's manager Bob Melvin announced Brooks had earned the team’s No. 5 starter job.
"There was some pressure on him," Melvin told reporters. "He was pitching to try to get a job, and he pitched really well, so we'll give him a job."
"(I'm) just excited," Brooks said. "Excited and blessed. It's taken me a little bit longer than maybe some to get on the Opening Day roster, but it feels good, and I'm just looking forward to helping us win in any possible way I can."
Brooks joins Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Brett Anderson and Frankie Montas in the A's rotation. It's his first time making an Opening Day starting unit.
"(It matters) a lot," Brooks told reporters. "It's kind of a big relief. Even if there's nothing on the line, you want to go out there and do well. Like I said, I'm just super blessed and excited to get going."
Brooks was competing with 30-year-old Chris Bassitt for the final rotation spot. Bassitt will start the season on the injured list after taking a ball off the shin in Japan.
In three major league seasons, Brooks has gone 3-5 with an 8.01 ERA in 60 2/3 innings. Last year in Oakland, he pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
On paper, the A's rotation is the clear weakness of the team. Estrada and Anderson are coming off disappointing seasons, while Montas and Brooks are still looking to establish themselves as big leaguers. Fiers performed well last year but has never been a No. 1 or No. 2 starter.
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The good news is that Oakland's deep bullpen should be able to pick up some of the slack. The A's also could get reinforcements later this year with the expected returns of Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton, A.J. Puk, and possibly Jesús Luzardo.
For now, Brooks and Co. will try to prove the doubters wrong. The A's certainly have a history of doing just that.