The Oakland Athletics find themselves struggling to find bullpen options outside of Liam Hendriks and they don’t have long to try and fix it.
The Oakland Athletics sit at 76-55 for the season, good for the second wild-card spot and half a game behind the Cleveland Indians for the top spot. Oakland is in a good position as they head into September and the AL West out of sight while being nine games back of Houston.
But there is one big problem and that is the A’s bullpen. After a dominant 2018 season, the pen has taken a big step back this season. Treinen and Trivino have been bad compared to their 2018 seasons, midseason pick-up Jake Diekman has been a bust and free-agent signing Joakim Soria hasn’t been good either.
Petit has been solid most of the year but he too fell apart against the Giants last week. All-Star Liam Hendriks has been a huge bright spot, as he was DFA’d last year and has now turned into one the best closers in baseball.
Fernando Rodney was DFA’d earlier this season after posting a horrendous 9.42 ERA in 14.1 innings pitched. So Oakland has battled their woes all season and still sits at 76-55, it makes you wonder what their record could be if they had a dominate bullpen like so many A’s teams have had in the 2010’s era.
Going forward it will be very tough for the A’s to continue this stretch of shaky bullpen play and expect to win games that matter. AJ Puk was brought up and he could thrive in that role or dud in his first major league action. Sean Manaea is close to a return but what should we expect from him missing so much time? Matt Harvey may be an option, but he has fallen off drastically since his heyday with the Mets.
Bob Melvin will almost certainly shorten the A’s bullpen for the Wild Card Game, hoping Fiers (or whoever goes) can go six or seven innings and then turning to Petit and Hendriks to close the door. But if they make it deeper, they will have to incorporate a few more relievers and at this point, who else can you trust to be consistent?
One note to look back on is the A’s trade of Emilio Pagán to the Rays in a three-team deal last December to net Jurickson Profar.
That turned out to be a terrible deal for Oakland. Pagán has become a great closer in Tampa and Profar has batted .214 with a WAR of only 0.2 with the A’s, in addition to being atrocious in the field.
The Oakland Athletics must find a solution and they may shuttle guys back and forth from AAA to find that. But the season isn’t getting any younger and if they don’t find those guys, it may turn out to be too late.