Oakland Athletics 2016 Preview: Reliever J.B. Wendelken

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Reliever J.B. Wendelken could make MLB debut with Oakland Athletics in 2016

J.B. Wendelken who? No, I do not mean Joey Wendle. If you have already forgotten, the Oakland Athletics acquired Wendelken in the Brett Lawrie trade with the Chicago White Sox this offseason. Interestingly enough, since he was on the White Sox 40-man roster at the time of the trade, Wendelken took Lawrie’s spot on the Athletics’ 40-man roster. Wendelken has been able to hold onto that spot on the A’s roster through various acquisitions that have bumped other Oakland players off the roster. What is so special about Wendelken?

As a quick reminder, Wendelken is a right-handed reliever who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 2012. Since then, he has quickly climbed the minor league ladder and landed in Triple-A at the end of the 2015 season. It is likely that he will start the 2016 with Oakland’s Triple-A team, the Nashville Sounds.

In 2015, Wendelken did pretty well in Double-A. He had a 2.72 ERA with 56 strikeouts over 43 innings pitched. However, once he was bumped up to Triple-A, he started to struggle. In the 12 games he played at this higher level, Wendelken ended the year with a 4.50 ERA and only 13 strikeouts over 16 innings pitched. 

His time in Triple-A last year was obviously short and the Athletics will be looking for him to improve this upcoming season. If Wendelken can demonstrate growth, Oakland may consider him if they need some extra bullpen support – thus why they have kept him on the 40-man roster. If anything, he will probably get called up in September when the roster expands to provide some depth to the bullpen, which will surely be growing tired after a full season.

It has been speculated that Wendelken is third in line behind Ryan Dull and R.J. Alvarez if the A’s need additional relief pitchers this season. However, if Alvarez cannot improve from the 9.90 ERA he had last year while with Oakland, Wendelken could find himself closer to the major leagues than previously predicted. Fans should keep a close eye on Wendelken to see how he performs in Triple-A this year for they may see him on the mound at the O.co Coliseum before the 2016 season ends.

Bold Prediction: J.B. Wendelken will make his major league debut prior to the September roster expansion.

Will J.B. Wendelken make his MLB debut in 2016? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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