Sean Doolittle Flourishing in Closer Role


The bearded man who is Sean Doolittle has been a fan favorite since joining the majors in 2012. That’s after Doolittle had been transitioned into a pitcher. Who would have guessed the A’s would eventually make him into the team’s closer? You saw from the get-go that the Doo could pitch. With mid-90’s heat, Sean was blowing batters away.

This season Doolittle has been absolutely mind-blowing. With Jim Johnson‘s faltering performances and Ryan Cook‘s health issues, Bob Melvin looked to Doo to close out games for the A’s.

Doolittle stepped up to the opportunity and has excelled in the process. with a 50 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio, Doolittle has by far the highest K/BB in the majors. Obviously, this stat won’t last forever, with another BB, Doolittle’s ratio will be cut in half, but still, the stat is exactly what a winning club wants to see and the next closest is a 12.1/1 ratio from David Price. He also has a 12.9 K/9 mark that is a big boost over his 7.8 from last year (according to Baseball Reference). Doolittle has been making light work of hitters this whole season while boasting a 0.60 WHIP.

Jun 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Sean Doolittle (62) pitches the ball against the Boston Red Sox during the ninth inning at Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Boston Red Sox 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Doolittle had almost solely relied on his heat to strike batters out in the past, but this season he’s taken it up a notch, using a curveball more (about 6% more this season than in 2012 and 2013 according to FanGraphs) to finish batters. Doolittle has also been able to get ahead of batters, by throwing first-pitch strikes 73.2% of the time in 2014 (according to FG).

As of late, Sean has been at his best, with a 23 1/3 innings scoreless streak heading into today’s game against the Boston Red Sox. in those innings Doolittle has given up six hits while striking out 37 batters. Doolittle has also closed out nine consecutive games during the scoreless streak and is 10/11 in save opportunities.

All this came after Billy Beane locked the lefty up for the next five years. Some may have taken Doolittle and his unicorn backpack as a joke early on, but hitters he’s faced have learned to not let that fool them. Still, not many have been able to figure out Doolittle and let’s hope it stays that way.