Middle relievers are often overlooked in any award voting, but Oakland A’s reliever Jake Diekman deserved some consideration for the AL Reliever of the Year.
Often times, middle relievers are an overlooked part of a team. They toil in relative anonymity, maybe picking up the occasional hold, but do not have the one statistical category that the average fan looks at. And yet, should they struggle just once, the fanbase is calling for their heads
There were few reasons for Oakland A’s fans to feel that way about Jake Diekman during the regular season. He was as close to untouchable as possible, allowing two runs, only one earned, over 21.1 innings. Opponents only managed eight hits all year, walking 12 times with 31 strikeouts.
As strong of a season as Diekman had, it would be understandable if it went unnoticed. He is not going to receive any votes for MVP or Cy Young. He was not included in the finalists for the AL Reliever of the Year vote either, although teammate Liam Hendriks more than deserved his nomination.
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But that is really a part of the job description. Diekman, and the dozens like him, are destined to pitch throughout their careers without much recognition. It is possible for these pitchers to be pushed into a role that puts them front and center, such as happened with Hendriks last year, but those moments are few and far between.
That same role change may befall Diekman. Hendriks is a free agent, leaving the A’s with a gaping hole at closer. Diekman is one of the pitchers who has been mentioned as a potential replacement for next season, especially as he is under team control through 2022. At $4 million next season, and another $4 million if that option is picked up, he would be an affordable option.
Maybe, if Diekman is the A’s closer next year, he can get some of that recognition. If he dominates the way he did this season, and continues to be virtually untouchable, maybe he can get some consideration for the Reliever of the Year award. Otherwise, he will continue to toil on in obscurity.
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Oakland A’s reliever Jake Diekman had an excellent 2021 campaign. Just don’t expect anyone to notice.