The Oakland Athletics’ Bullpen Turmoil Continues
On Tuesday, the A’s announced the trade of left-hander Eric O’Flaherty and cash considerations to the Mets, in exchange for a player to be named later. This continues a string of recent bullpen changes, and it’s probable that Billy Beane has more moves in mind.
O’Flaherty was 1-2 with a 5.91 ERA this season, after appearing in just 25 games over the course of the year. He missed the entire month of May with a left shoulder strain, and had struggled throughout the 2015 campaign. He had been designated for assignment on Saturday, but cleared waivers to make the trade with the Mets possible.
Overall, O’Flaherty had not been stellar with the A’s. While he managed to post a 4.14 ERA over the last two seasons, it was certainly not what the A’s envisioned when they acquired the free-agent lefty after the 2013 season. In five years as an Atlanta Brave, O’Flaherty had posted a 1.99 ERA and 3.16 FIP, striking out 199 batters in just under 250 innings. His time with the Oakland Athletics’ did not reflect those numbers.
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O’Flaherty marks the second member of the A’s bullpen to leave the team this week. Before last Friday’s trade deadline, the A’s sent right-hander Ryan Cook to the Boston Red Sox for another player to be named later. Cook, whose pitching woes have been enumerated on throughout the season, had an 0-2 record and a 10.38 ERA in four appearances, having allowed five runs in his brief time with the big league club this year.
What do these changes mean for the Oakland Athletics’ bullpen? Although Felix Doubront was acquired to take over O’Flaherty’s role as a mediocre left-hander, the changes should also result in more time for the players who have been on the shuttle between Triple-A Nashville and Oakland. R.J. Alvarez and Arnold Leon will get more opportunities against right-handed batters, as they continue to battle for a spot on the roster. Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte, now that he has returned from the disabled list, could possibly benefit from O’Flaherty’s and Cook’s absences as well.
One long-term impact could be future opportunities to let pitchers like Sean Nolin try their hand in the majors. Nolin, who is 2-1 with a 2.67 ERA in 33.2 innings with Nashville this season, might not be the most fascinating part of the Josh Donaldson trade, but he’s certainly got potential as a reliever. This would be a great time for the A’s to try him out and let him audition for next season.
Maybe if the Oakland Athletics’ had considered making these moves sooner, they wouldn’t be in the position they’re in now.