Oakland Athletics: Four Key Relievers Who Should Return In 2016

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Aug 26, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Oakland Athletics pitcher Pat Venditte (29) throws against the Seattle Mariners during the sixth inning at Safeco Field. Seattle defeated Oakland, 8-2. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Surprise: Pat Venditte

Certainly very few people expected Venditte to stick in the major leagues. His fastball isn’t very fast, and it seemed like hitters would easily be able to make adjustments to his fairly-average repertoire. Yet, Venditte has been undeniably good in his limited time with the club.

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The switch-pitcher has a 3.72 ERA through 19.1 innings in 16 games, but given his unique skill set, those are still good numbers. Venditte’s strength is his unusual ability to throw from both sides of the mound. This creates a challenge for managers, who must make decisions about when to pinch hit without the added bonus of knowing that they’re forcing opponents to burn through their bullpen. It also makes it easier to get by without a lefty specialist, because Venditte is capable of being a one-out guy if he needs to be.

If any of these four pitchers came with an asterisk, it would be Venditte. Earlier, it was mentioned that Doolittle’s only runs came in the games immediately following his return. Venditte appears to be getting hit harder than he did in June, but there are plenty of reasons that could be true. Primarily, Bob Melvin has begun to use him in increasingly high-leverage situations, which makes it a lot harder to continue throwing scoreless appearances.

The Oakland Athletics’ don’t need a bullpen full of lights-out closers, although it would certainly be nice. They just need a group of guys who can typically hold the opposing team to minimal runs, and Venditte has been able to do just that.

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