Oakland Athletics Roundup: Bullpen Flexibility; Plus, 2016 Previews Continue


A’s Seem to Lack Bullpen Flexibility; Plus, 2016 Previews Continue
Oakland Athletics Roundup: Thursday, March 17

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Oakland Athletics fans! This is the one day of the year when fans of all teams embrace the Green and Gold.

Yesterday, I wrote about the battle for the final bullpen job, and how the most likely candidate to win it is [no, no, I’m not telling you here…you’ll have to read it for yourself]. Without going too much into detail, it brought to light a problem the Athletics will have in 2016: their bullpen doesn’t allow for a lot of flexibility.

It’s not that a bullpen must be comprised entirely of rookies with plenty of option years remaining. But let’s say, god forbid, Sonny Gray gets shelled in the first inning on Opening Day, and the relievers have to come in early. Then, Rich Hill has an equally disappointing performance the following day. The third game is an 18-inning debacle.

Sure, that’s extreme – but that kind of scenario happens to most teams several times each season. The result is that the front office will usually ask one of the relievers to “save” the rest of the bullpen by going 3-4 innings, then ship them out to Triple-A in exchange for a lesser replacement.

But who could the Athletics’ send? Most of the relievers in question – John Axford, Ryan Madson, Liam Hendriks, Marc Rzepczynski and Fernando Rodriguez – are not able to be optioned out. Sean Doolittle is the closer, so he won’t be going anywhere, either. That leaves just the final spot, and – spoiler alert – the probable pitcher for that job doesn’t have any options either. If they need a replacement arm, the Athletics will have to temporarily play with a short bench or designate someone for assignment in the hope that he will clear waivers so that they can outright him to the minor leagues.

Overall, it’s not that big of a deal – but from a strategy standpoint, it’s interesting to think about the lack of flexibility with this bullpen. It will be interesting to see how the Athletics manage their roster to make this work.

In Case You Missed It

Who Will Win the Remaining Bullpen Job? – As alluded to above, be sure to check out the four pitchers most likely to win the Athletics’ final bullpen spot – and find out why in the end, only one of them actually has a real chance to make the Opening Day roster (barring any injury news).

2016 Preview: LHP Sean Doolittle, The Closer – Lefty Sean Doolittle missed most of last season with a shoulder injury. Melson Varsovia explains why he’s confident that Doolittle is back and will be just as good as he was in his outstanding 2014 season.


Next: Swingin' A's Seeks New Writers For Upcoming Season

Around the Web

Halo Hangout: Jered Weaver Will Not Go On DL – Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jered Weaver will not go on the disabled list, according to the crew over at Halo Hangout. Find out their reaction to the news about the Athletics’ AL West rivals.