Entering the season, the A’s figured to have one of the best bullpens in baseball. Guys like Andrew Bailey, Grant Balfour, and Brian Fuentes all figured to help the A’s close out opponents. But while Bailey and Balfour have performed well this season, some of Oakland’s relievers have had trouble in 2011.
Fuentes, as most of you will remember, was highly critical of ex-A’s manager Bob Geren during the season. At the time, the A’s were struggling, and Fuentes was experiencing his own share of struggles as well. Geren, who was fired mid-season this year, was criticized by not only Fuentes, but ex-A’s closer Huston Street as well. Fuentes argued that Geren had unorthodox managerial skills.
Overall, it’s been a frustrating season for the A’s and Fuentes. In 56 innings of work this season, the veteran lefty has gone 2-8 with 12 saves and a 3.86 ERA. While most will agree with Fuentes’ evaluation of Geren, most A’s fans will probably admit that Fuentes hasn’t had that great of a season, and had no business throwing his manager under the bus like that.
Aside from Fuentes, the A’s have seen several other reliable relievers hit a wall in 2011. Oakland’s Craig Breslow and Michael Wuertz have been among the team’s worst performers this year.
For Breslow, who had a strong 2010 campaign, this season has been a major disappointment. After going 4-4 with a 3.01 ERA in 74.2 innings last year, Breslow has hit a major wall this year, going 0-2 with a 3.93 ERA in 55.0 innings. He’s also blown three saves this year.
Wuertz, however, has had an even worse season this year. In 33.1 innings this year, Wuertz owns a 6.48 ERA and a 1.83 WHIP. If you remember, this is a guy that Oakland offered a two-year extension to, after he went 6-1 with a 2.63 ERA in 78.2 innings during the 2009 season. But during the last two seasons, Wuertz has battled injuries, and as a result, his performance has taken a considerable hit.
Oakland added Balfour and Fuentes prior to the start of the season, and like many fans across the bay area, I was really excited about Oakland’s bullpen. The A’s ‘pen has it’s bright spots, namely Bailey and Balfour, but it’s definitely not stellar. That’s something I think we all learned over the course of this season..