Oakland A’s cut bait on disappointing part of relief corps
By David Hill
The Oakland A’s bullpen had been a key part of their early season success but has fallen apart recently. Bob Melvin had only three or four relievers he could count on at the best of times, and those arms predictably became overworked. The A’s desperately needed another arm to step up but that never happened.
Now, with approximately three weeks left in the season, the A’s have started to make moves. They have designated Burch Smith for assignment, bringing Domingo Acevedo back to the 40 man roster.
Oakland A’s cut bait on Burch Smith
There was reason to hope that Smith could be a key part of the A’s relief corps this season. Although he only made six appearances last year due to injury, he allowed only three runs on seven hits and a walk over his 12 innings, striking out 13 batters. With the back of the bullpen wide open, Smith had a chance to make a major impact.
Instead, he missed the first month of the season due to injury, then struggled from the time he was activated. Smith ended up being used primarily in low leverage situations, posting a 5.40 ERA and a 1.385 WHiP in his 43.1 innings. While he issued just 11 walks, he only struck out 28 batters, making it difficult to rely upon him to get out of a jam.
Smith has also been one of those pitchers who have been hit hard by the major league ban on doctoring baseballs. His average spin rate on his fastball dropped from approximately 2550 RPM in July down to under 2000 RPM by the time he was removed from the roster. That was not good enough.
In his place, the A’s are hoping to get something out of Acevedo. He had once been a highly touted prospect for the Yankees, but had not been able to find his way to the majors before this season. While he did not exactly impress in his first stint, allowing three runs on five hits, including two homers, over his three innings, he has more upside than Smith. At this point, that upside has far more value.
The Oakland A’s are making moves to improve their struggling bullpen. Burch Smith has been shown the door as he just could not build on 2020.