Despite his role as a long reliever, Jordan Weems is set to become a very important pitcher in the Oakland A’s bullpen.
Typically, long relievers do not attract much attention. They exist to eat up innings during a blowout, saving the bullpen from having to work in a contest that is already decided. Or, they come in when the starter leaves early, bridging the gap to the more specialized relievers. They may get the occasional spot start, but they usually exist in obscurity.
That will not be the case with Jordan Weems. With Jesus Luzardo set to rejoin the A’s rotation on Tuesday, he has become the de facto long reliever on the roster. The former minor league catcher has performed well thus far in his first taste of the majors, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk, striking out five in his five innings.
With starters still building up their pitch counts, the long reliever is suddenly a very important role. They are still eating innings, but in this case, they are protecting the bullpens as the starters are trying to stretch themselves out during the season. Teams are essentially still on spring training pitch counts.
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This makes Weems all the more important. He will be tasked with following up those starters, pitching multiple innings as the A’s look to preserve their relievers. Even the relievers are working to their normal workloads, as they are not yet pitching in back to back contests.
Weems can also use this opportunity as a springboard to a more important role moving forward. Joakim Soria, Liam Hendriks, and Yusmeiro Petit are all free agents after the 2020 season concludes. There will be openings in the A’s bullpen next year, and a chance for Weems to work his way into one of those spots.
That springboard could happen as soon as this year. The A’s, like every other team, do not have the time to wait for their pitchers to return to form. If Weems continues to pitch well, and other members of the bullpen struggle, he could end up taking on a larger role.
As it is, Jordan Weems is an important pitcher on the Oakland A’s. This place in long relief has value, especially as the starters are still getting stretched out.