J.B. Wendelken getting closer to returning

The Oakland A’s relief corps could use some help. Although the back end of their bullpen has been reasonably solid this year, the A’s have struggled to find middle relievers that can provide a respectable bridge to those later innings, especially of late. It is something that the A’s have missed with J.B. Wendelken on the Injured List.

However, the A’s are getting some good news on that front. Wendelken began his rehab assignment in Triple-A on Thursday, a first step to returning to Oakland. He is expected to return during the A’s current road trip, although he likely needs at least one more appearance before being activated.

J.B. Wendelken can make difference for Oakland A’s

Wendelken’s return, and subsequent performance, could make a difference for the A’s plans at the trade deadline. He had not performed well prior to landing on the IL, posting a 4.38 ERA and a 1.622 WHiP over his 12.1 innings. Although he had struck out 15 batters while issuing five walks, he had allowed 15 hits as he did not provide much relief.

However, Wendelken was a key part of the A’s buzzsaw of a bullpen in 2020. He had posted a stellar 1.80 ERA and a 1.120 WHiP over his 25 innings, striking out 31 batters while issuing 11 walks. He appeared to be someone that could be a part of the Closer of the Future conversation, or at worst, an option for the late innings.

That may end up being the case going forward as well. The A’s may need to rebuild their bullpen again this coming offseason, and Wendelken could end up in a high leverage spot if he performs well down the stretch. But that is a concern for the future, and something that the A’s do not need to be focusing on now.

All that the A’s need from him right now is to be a solid piece in their relief corps. His first rehab appearance did not go well, as he allowed a run while walking two in his inning of work. But he has time to work out the kinks in the minors before hopefully becoming the arm that the A’s need down the stretch.

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The Oakland A’s need help in their bullpen. With J.B. Wendelken getting closer to a return, that help may come sooner rather than later.