A 2017 Oakland A’s bullpen preview: Closer by Committee?

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Jul 27, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt (21) and relief pitcher Ryan Madson (44) celebrate the victory against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 27, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt (21) and relief pitcher Ryan Madson (44) celebrate the victory against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oakland Athletics
Apr 16, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Sean Doolittle (62) prepares to pitch against the Kansas City Royals in the eight inning at the Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Kansas City Royals 5 to 3. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports /

Sean Doolittle was drafted by Oakland 41st overall in the 2007 amateur draft.

While he had pitched in highschool and college he also played first base. It was the position he was drafted to play.

Unfortunately Doolittle suffered from multiple knee injuries and was unable to continue on at first base. So, the left-hander converted back to pitching in 2011.

After making his debut with the big league club in 2012 Doolittle was used mainly as the set-up man for then-closer Grant Balfour.

It wasn’t until the 2014 season when former-Baltimore Orioles pitcher-turned-Oakland Athletic Jim Johnson literally forgot how to pitch that Doolittle was officially given the closer role in May of that year.

He pitched so well that he was one of six All-Stars on the American League squad from the Oakland Athletics.

Doolittle finished the 2014 season having saved 22 games after having 26 opportunities and posted a 2.73 ERA.

The past two seasons have not been good to the only lefty currently slated to be in the bullpen. He suffered a slighty tear to his left rotator cuff just prior to the 2015 season and was limited to only 12 appearances. He went 1-0 with four saves and a 3.95 ERA.

In 2016, Doolittle was back to being his old self again, that is until the end of June during a Saturday game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Something didn’t feel right but Doolittle knew it wasn’t his rotator cuff.

This time the pain was towards the front part of his shoulder, not the rear. It turned out labrum pains were what what were slowing Doolittle down and he landed on the disabled list until September 5th.

With the A’s far out of postseason range, Doolittle was able to pitch until Oct.1. He appeared in nine more games in 2016, posting a slightly elevated 4.32 ERA but that wasn’t too bad for a guy who had missed almost two seasons.

If Doolittle can remain healthy in 2017, there is every chance he’ll be a part-time, or even full-time, closer as often times the whole “closer by committee” idea doesn’t always last all season long. It did not in 2014 and it may not again.

Regardless Doolittle’s primary objective will have to be to remain healthy, and as the only official lefty in the bullpen thus far, there’s a chance he may be used in more matchup situations.

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