Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Frankie Montas looked like he was on the way to his first All-Star Game. Instead, he’ll miss the next 80 games due to a positive test for Ostarine, a banned substance under MLB‘s Joint Drug Agreement. Major League Baseball announced the 80-game suspension on Friday afternoon and it begins immediately.
Montas, 26, is 9-2 with a 2.70 ERA (160 ERA+), 1.12 WHIP and 97 strikeouts against 20 unintentional walks in 90 innings over 15 starts this season. He probably wouldn’t have been the AL Cy Young winner to this point, but he’d be in consideration for some. He ranks 10th in WAR among AL pitchers.
The A’s have played 76 games, so Montas will be able to appear in a game or two before the end of the season, should the A’s deem him ready and decide to send him out there. He will not, however, be eligible to pitch in the postseason by rule under the JDA. It would also be pretty tough to imagine him being game ready without the availability of a minor-league rehab assignment in late September.
Effectively, this suspension ends what was shaping up to be a big-time breakout campaign for Montas.
Montas has released the following statement through the Major League Baseball Players Association:
“I am deeply saddened to confirm that MLB recently notified me I have tested positive for Ostarine, a prohibited substance under MLB’s Joint Drug Agreement. While I never intended to take any prohibited substance, I unfortunately and unknowingly ingested a contaminated supplement that I had purchased over-the-counter at a nutrition store here in the United States. That said, I respect MLB rules and understand my responsibilities under the Joint Drug Agreement, and accept full responsibility. I sincerely apologize to the A’s organization, the fans, my teammates and my family for this mistake. My hope is to be able to return to the A’s later this season and contribute as best I can.”
As for those A’s, they are 40-36 and right in playoff contention. They have won eight of their last 11. SportsLine’s revised projections based on the suspension drop the A’s from a projection of 90.3 wins to 89.2 wins, per data scientist Stephen Oh. Their projections of making the postseason fall to 28.8 percent, a drop of six points.
One’s mind can’t help but wander to top prospect Jesus Luzardo (Baseball America had him ranked seventh in all of baseball before the season started). He’s working his way back from a shoulder injury and has gone seven innings in Class A-Advanced so far with just one run allowed (1.29 ERA) while striking out 11 without a walk. He’s only built up to 52 pitches, though, and obviously would need to work up to Triple-A before a promotion.
For now, the A’s likely patchwork Montas’ spot.