A’s desperately need to add dominant reliever
In 2018, the Oakland A’s bullpen pitched out of its mind until the Yankees came knocking in the Wild Card game. They will need to find a saving grace to fix the underperforming pen this season.
Blake Treinen and Lou Trivino’s 2018 season for the Oakland Athletics positioned them as one of the most dominant 8-9 duos in Major League Baseball.
Treinen put up numbers not seen since Dennis Eckersley’s MVP 1990 season – the first pitcher ever with 100 strikeouts, 30 saves (38) and an ERA under one (0.78)– and Trivino was not too shabby himself, putting up an 8-3 record with a 2.92 ERA and a 2.48 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The numbers, despite being wildly impressive, seemed more a harbinger of things to come for the 30-and-25-year-old relievers, but they have both taken a giant step back in 2019, and have brought the once-vaunted bullpen down the ladder with them.
Billy Beane is a tactical wizard in regards to making mid-season trades that benefit the Oakland Athletics. He made a great one adding Jeurys Familia last season, and he will need to make a similar steal at the deadline this summer to improve to the bullpen if this front office – which is clearly invested in the current roster, as evidenced by the Khris Davis extension – wants to make another run this season.
We saw in Sunday’s 9-8 win over the Texas Rangers, Trivino and Treinen combined to give up five runs (four earned) in 1.2 innings in the eight and ninth. They were saved by a Khris Davis RBI single in the ninth, bringing their respective ERAs to 5.01 (Trivino) and 3.34 (Treinen).
Despite the offense being just – if not even more – explosive than last year, and the starting rotation put together by duct tape and super glue once again performing above their pay grade, the bullpen has struggled at every turn.
Only two relievers – Yumiero Petit and Liam Hendriks – have pitched over 10 innings and posted an ERA under three (Petit has a 2.39 in 37.1 innings and Hendriks has a 1.77 in 35.2 innings of work). New face Wei-Chung Wang, the new righty who was called up on May 25 and has pitched 7.2 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing only three hits.
But Oakland has had to punt on big additions it has made over the last few years, including Fernando Rodney (who should have never even sniffed the playoffs last year), Joakim Soria and most recently Ryan Dull, who was just designated for assignment Monday morning.
This team has a chance to make noise in the playoffs, especially if heralded prospects Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk (and a recovered Sean Manaea) can live up to expectations when they finally make their debuts, just as Sonny Gray did in 2013 (his playoff duel against Justin Verlander still stands as my all-time live sports memory).
But if these Oakland Athletics want to advance in the playoffs – or even make a run at the Wild Card spot once again – they will need to drastically enhance the bullpen.