Oakland Athletics 2016 Preview: Relief Pitcher Marc Rzepczynski

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Jun 13, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Marc Rzepczynski (35) pitches in the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Marc Rzepczynski (35) pitches in the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oakland Athletics acquired lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski on December 19, 2015.

The Oakland Athletics made it their mission this offseason to rebuild the bullpen with some strong and reliable arms. While in the process of accomplishing this goal, the A’s acquired left-handed relief pitcher Marc Rzepczynski in a trade with the San Diego Padres. This transaction also brought first baseman Yonder Alonso to Oakland.

When the Athletics acquired Rzepczynski, many did not see this as a profitable trade for the team because he had a horrible 2015 season. He started off the year with the Cleveland Indians and went 2-3 with a 4.43 ERA in 20.1 innings pitched. Additionally, he also blew two save opportunities.

Rzepczynski was then traded to the Padres at the trade deadline. Unfortunately, the change of scenery did not help Rzepczynski at all. While in San Diego, his ERA skyrocketed to 7.36 and he gave up 14 runs in 14.2 innings pitched.

Even though Rzepczynski had a rough 2015, he has been successful in the past. 2014 was his best season to date. That year, Rzepczynski made 73 relief appearances and maintained a 2.74 ERA with a 1.33 WHIP. It must also be noted that once he was traded to the Cleveland Indians in 2013, Rzepczynski was able to keep his ERA below 1.00 during the second half of that season.

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So, there have been some moments of brilliance for Rzepczynski in the past. The question is whether or not he will return to that form in 2016 with the green and gold. Interestingly enough, manager Bob Melvin was quick to mentioned how impressed he was with Rzepczynski after the first day of spring training this year. Melvin also told the press that Rzepczynski’s fastball has a lot of movement, which could make him deadly against right handed hitters as well.

Despite Rzepczynski’s potentially threatening fastball, the real reason he is in the Oakland Athletics’ bullpen is to be a lefty specialist. The A’s former lefty specialist, Fernando Abad, struggled in 2015 and was designated for assignment on November 20, 2015. Rzepczynski will take over Abad’s role and hopefully shut down left-handed hitters. Rzepczynski found success against lefty batters in the past — especially in 2013 and 2014, so this should not be a problem for him in 2016 as long as he demonstrates more control and reliability than 2015.

Rzepczynski will be an interesting one to watch. His MLB career has been a roller coast ride, but hopefully he can find some stability with the A’s. Ultimately, the goal is that Rzepczynski and the other newly acquired relievers will improve the Athletics’ bullpen for this upcoming season.

Bold Prediction: After a solid showing during spring training, Marc Rzepczynski will return to his 2014 form and excel as a lefty specialist with the Oakland Athletics in 2016.

Next: A's Pitcher Sean Nolin Claimed Off Waivers by Brewers

Will Marc Rzepczynski excel or flop in 2016? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below! 

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