The Oakland Athletics came into the season thinking their bullpen would be their backbone, the reason they would win games. Instead it has been a mixture of the starting pitching and the offense that has been racking up the wins. The bullpen has actually collapsed some, and has already lost the team a handful of games.
First let’s look at Jim Johnson. Johnson came into the season as the closer, but quickly lost his job after just one week after costing the Athletics 2 games. He has since redeemed himself enough to allow Bob Melvin to give him a save situation, where he notched a save in the close 3-2 win against Boston to avoid the sweep. So we have Johnson, slowly but surely working his way back.
Then we have Sean Doolittle. He was extended for 5 years, and had big expectations on him coming into the season. He hasn’t met them, allowing more runs than usual, allowing 8 so far in 14.1 innings pitched. He has a 5.02 ERA. That is not the Sean Doolittle that we know, and not the one we rely on to save the game for us. So we have a future closer who is struggling.
Next up is Luke Gregerson. He is a part of the closer by committee for the Athletics. He has had 6 save opportunities, but has only been able to convert half of them. His ERA is significantly lower than Doolittle’s however, as it sits at 2.70. He is also a pitcher who had huge expectations on him, but has yet to meet them. So, so far we have a closer getting back on track, and two set up men who have struggled to meet expectations.
Now let’s get to where things are average. Dan Otero is a pitcher that I have made clear I see as closer material. He hasn’t been great, but he’s been better than the first three guys. He has allowed 5 runs in 15 innings pitched for a 3.00 ERA. He isn’t doing great, but he isn’t doing as bad as the rest of the bunch. So what we have to this point is 4 struggling pitchers, all of which were supposed to be lights out from the get go.
Ryan Cook is next on the list, and he is doing better than everyone on the list so far. He has a 1.86 ERA. He was a little rough around the edges when he returned from the DL, but has since been lights out and done an amazing job in keeping the bullpen decent. Ryan Cook is the Ryan Cook that we know, love, and trust.
Drew Pomeranz is also doing well. He is the long reliever, and may not be a part of the bullpen for long. Pomeranz has a 1.98 ERA, and with good pitching under his belt he may be stretched out to join the rotation. But as far as how he has been in the bullpen, he has also been better than the first four, who were supposed to be the best.
I’ve saved the best for last. Fernando Abad has been the shining star in this bullpen, having yet to allow any runs in 12.1 innings of work. He has a WHIP of .41 and has kept the bullpen ERA respectable. Abad can and should soon find himself in the late innings instead of the earlier. Abad is an outstanding pitcher whom the Athletics should lock up. The rest of the bullpen should take some notes, Abad is what the Oakland Athletics bullpen was supposed to be.
Someone will be out of a job soon however. The secret weapon is almost ready. The secret weapon is named Eric O’Flaherty. He will be starting a rehab assignment soon, and adding him to the bullpen will give them a huge boost. A new, fresh arm with a proven track record. He is talented, and if he can come in and succeed, he may just give Fernando Abad some competition for best pitcher in the Oakland bullpen. Let’s hope that’s the case.