There was a time when Nik Turley appeared to have an inside track to a bullpen role with the Oakland A’s. Not only is he out of options, but he was the only lefty amongst the relievers other than presumed closer Jake Diekman. Turley seemed to be in solid shape for a major league role.
Then the A’s started making moves. Signing Trevor Rosenthal led to Diekman being moved out of the closer spot. Adam Kolarek added another lefty to the bullpen mix. Then there is the uncertainty of A.J. Puk‘s role. Suddenly, Turley needed to earn his way onto the roster.
Nik Turley pitching way out of Oakland A’s plans
A strong spring would do wonders for Turley’s chances. Instead, he has imploded thus far, allowing eight runs on six hits, four of which have been homers, and two walks in his three innings. While he has struck out five batters, that has been the only statistical positive for him at this point.
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The velocity is there for Turley. He is throwing at 97 MPH and his curve is showing solid movement. The problem is that his command is awful – either he cannot throw strikes when he needs, or he is leaving the ball out over the plate. That happens in spring training – players can take time to get into a rhythm and back to form.
But that is not a luxury Turley has. He needed to perform right out of the gate, impressing the A’s with his stuff and showing that he can get major league hitters out. He had a decent enough 2020 season; his 4.98 ERA belied a 1.108 WHiP and a 3.88 FIP, but Turley was undone by his inability to throw strikes consistently.
That will only go so far. He was already behind the eight ball when spring training opened, down the pecking order as the A’s improved their bullpen. He had to pitch well in order to force his way into the A’s plans. Instead, he has done the opposite thus far in spring training.
Nik Turley once seemed to have a spot on the Oakland A’s in hand. Those times have changed, and his performance may be his ticket out.