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Breakout MLB Star Handed 80-Game Suspension, Will Miss Playoffs

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Oakland Athletics pitcher Frankie Montas seemed like a lock to make his first All-Star team this year as he ranks in the top five in wins (9), ERA (2.70) and win percentage (.818).

But now Montas will not only not play in the All-Star Game, but he will miss out on the postseason if the A’s make it there after he was docked with a PED suspension, per ESPN.

On Friday MLB announced that Montas tested positive for a banned substance and has been suspended for 80 games. He won’t be eligible to return until the end of September and won’t be eligible to pitch in the postseason.

“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,” Montas said in a statement, via the MLB Players Association.

Montas, who was born in the Dominican Republic, said he unknowingly took the banned substance as part of an over-the-counter supplement he purchased in the United States.

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“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,” the statement continued. “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 alter this season and contribute as best as I can.”

In addition to the suspension, Montas will lose roughly half of his $560,000 salary and will forever be labeled as someone who tried to cheat the game.

Montas was in the midst of a breakout season that featured eight innings of one-hit ball along with nine strikeouts in his last start Thursday.

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He had gone a combined 6-5 with a 4.92 ERA over his first two seasons with the Athletics, which came after being acquired in a 2016 trade from the Dodgers.

Montas credited his breakout 2019 season to his new splitter that he added this offseason. He had thrown it on more than 18 percent of all his pitches per FanGraphs after having never thrown a splitter in his entire MLB career.

“They’ve been pretty good, the splitter especially,” Montas said last week, according to NBC Sports. “I’ve been throwing more strikes with my fastball, and I can throw the splitter for a ball and they swing at it.”

The loss of Montas is a big blow for the Athletics as he leads the team in wins, ERA, win percentage, innings pitched and strikeouts.

The Athletics sit at 40-37 entering play on Saturday. They were eight games behind the Astros in the AL West but just two games back of the Red Sox for the second wildcard spot.

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The A’s recalled pitcher J.B. Wendelken from Triple-A Las Vegas to take Montas’ place on the 25-man roster, but more help could be on the way.

Sean Manaea, who won 12 games for Oakland in 2018, is nearing a rehab stint after surgery last year, while top prospect Jesus Luzardo was just promoted to Triple-A and could be another option later in the season.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
Location
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