Oakland Athletics: Five Biggest Surprises of Spring Training

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Oakland Athletics
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Surprise 4: Ryan Dull

It wouldn’t be a Spring Training post if there wasn’t a mention of how fantastic Ryan Dull has been. He was widely expected to be in competition for a spot, but his performance had been phenomenal. In 9.1 innings of work, he had yet to allow a single earned run. Why the past-tense? Well, Dull would have been better off if Spring Training had ended a day early – he allowed four earned runs on five hits in 2/3 of an inning on Wednesday, skyrocketing his ERA to a still-respectable 3.60 mark.

But that doesn’t change how impressive he was before that outing. Prior to Wednesday’s game, Dull hadn’t allowed much traffic – he’d given up three hits and walked a pair, but also struck out 12 batters in eight games. Early in camp, he encountered a bases-loaded no-outs situation, due to a pair of errors and a walk. He escaped without any damage, striking out two and inducing a fly out to end the inning, demonstrating his extreme composure on the mound.

Dull wasn’t a big name prior to last season, and even after being called up, he didn’t make a lot of noise. He finished the season with a mediocre 4.24 ERA, although that was heavily inflated by the end of September – he started his career with an eight-game, 11-inning scoreless streak. He’s never been a particularly heralded prospect, so it was quite surprising to see the kind of numbers he put up this spring.

One could even make the argument that it was his performance that ultimately pushed Felix Doubront into the rotation and forced Jesse Hahn to Triple-A, given that including Hahn in the rotation would’ve meant Doubront needed Dull’s spot in the bullpen. As a reliever with options, Dull will have to keep up this kind of performance in order to hold onto his spot, but it was certainly a pleasant surprise to see him pitch so well during camp.

Next: Surprise 5: A Lock For the Rotation is Demoted