At this time last year, Oakland's rotation was more conjecture than reality following the trades of Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill. Bartolo Colon had not yet been signed, and the A's knew Brett Anderson would not be back until midseason at the earliest following elbow surgery.
The A's go into 2013 with one of the more solid rotations around, thanks to the emergence of young starters Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin, plus the early re-signing of Colon.
Most important of all: Anderson's strong return last year. Although he missed the final two weeks of the season with an oblique strain, Anderson also was able to pitch in the postseason, and the A's couldn't have been more thrilled with the toughness and leadership he demonstrated -- one reason the club could afford to allow established veteran Brandon McCarthy to leave as a free agent.
Anderson went 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA in six regular-season starts, and although his innings are likely to be regulated carefully a year after returning from Tommy John surgery, there is little doubt he'll be in line to be Oakland's Opening Day starter. He's the team's longest-tenured starter -- though he is still only 24 -- and he gritted his way through discomfort to pitch in the division series.
Parker will be the No. 2 starter, likely followed by Milone, and the final two spots in the rotation will be between Griffin, Colon and Dan Straily, who showed promise while with the big-league club in the second half.
The A's are a little thinner than usual when it comes to Triple-A starting depth, but 2011 top pick Sonny Gray is likely to be a consideration should Oakland need fill-in rotation help.