There is no doubt that Dan Otero was quite the pleasant surprise in 2013 for the Athletics. Picked up off the scrap heap after being let go by both the San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees, Otero became a vital piece in the Athletics bullpen down the stretch. He went from being purely relegated to the mop up role, to pitching in high pressure situations, and he excelled in both roles.
Otero’s importance was amplified because of the difficulty Ryan Cook had establishing any semblance of consistency during the last couple months. Ryan Cook was still being trusted by Bob Melvin in set up situations, and he got burned a few times for that, but Otero helped ease the burden.
He came up from Triple A Sacramento in June, and threw 39 innings for the A’s. He posted a dazzling 1.38 ERA, and a 1.23 WHIP which was mostly accounted for by giving up some hits. He only walked six batters, and had a 4.50 K/BB ratio. Most importantly, Otero didn’t allow a single home run (In fact, he hasn’t allowed a home run in the Major Leagues at all). His BABIP of .333 was a little above average, so his numbers could have been even better.
The future looks bright for Otero as the A’s embark on the 2014 season in February. For the first time in his career he can go into a big league camp expecting to make the team, rather than hoping to get a chance to show what he can do in an effort to earn a mid-season call up. With the probable departure of Grant Balfour, and his likely replacement being either Sean Doolittle or Ryan Cook, Otero figures to get an increased role in the bullpen.
If Otero’s sinker is sinking like we all know it can, the A’s will be just fine at the back end of the bullpen without the angry Australian. There always exists the possibility that the A’s will go out and get another relief pitcher, and that may not demote Otero necessarily, it could simply be as an insurance policy incase his 2013 season was a mirage. The numbers indicate it wasn’t though, so the A’s really have something in Dan Otero.