The Oakland A’s bullpen will look a lot different in 2021, particularly at the closer spot. Let’s take a look at three possible options to close games for the A’s.
The ninth inning will be a vastly different experience for the Oakland A’s in 2021. Barring some sort of miraculous infusion of cash to the organization, Liam Hendriks will be in high leverage spots for another team.
While the A’s need to fill various holes in the roster, solidifying the ninth inning should be a priority. Their starting rotation has a great deal of upside, and the core of the roster remains in place. The A’s should still be in contention for a playoff berth in 2021.
However, even the strongest roster can be undone by a weak bullpen. We have seen that time and again around the game, with teams such as the Phillies and Nationals working tirelessly to find even a somewhat competent relief mix. After the A’s buzzsaw of a bullpen in 2020, this is the last thing anyone wants to happen.
Let’s look at some options for the Oakland A’s to take over in the ninth inning.
The internal options
As it currently stands, the Oakland A’s have penciled Jake Diekman in as their new closer. Considering his dominance in 2020, it makes sense that Oakland would consider handing the ninth inning to him.
The problem is that Diekman is the only left handed option in the A’s bullpen. This could change during free agency, or if Oakldn determines that A.J. Puk would be better served in a relief role for the upcoming year. But the lack of southpaws in the bullpen makes Diekman’s role as closer more tenuous than it may seem.
There are other possible options to handle the ninth. Puk himself could be an option, as could Burch Smith or Lou Trivino. The A’s do have options internally, although none of them have handled the ninth inning as the primary closer before.
The Oakland A’s bullpen still has some solid options to take over the ninth inning. One of them may emerge as the closer for 2021.