Can Zach Jackson be the Oakland A’s closer in waiting?

Jul 22, 2022; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Zach Jackson (61) returns to dug out after being relieved during the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 22, 2022; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Zach Jackson (61) returns to dug out after being relieved during the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports /
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One of the biggest questions facing the Oakland A’s involves the ninth inning. At this point, Dany Jimenez and Trevor May are considered the favorites to serve as the closer heading into the 2023 season. Either pitcher would make sense; Jimenez led the A’s in saves last season while May is their highest paid reliever.

But there is another option waiting in the wings. Zach Jackson has not gotten much attention in the A’s bullpen speculation but he could emerge as the preferred option for the ninth inning.

Zach Jackson ready for higher leverage role

Jackson worked his way into a high leverage role with the A’s last season, notching three saves and 26 holds. He had a solid showing in his rookie campaign, posting a 3.00 ERA and a 1.271 WHiP over his 48 innings, striking out 67 batters. The problem was that he also issued 33 walks which could be a factor in his eventual role.

Those command issues cropped up at times during his minor league career. Jackson posted a 5.4 BB/9 rate in the minors, although he typically had better command of his pitches the second time he was at a level. It may be a matter of having that comfort level and knowing he can get batters out.

If that ends up being the case, the ninth inning could be his. His fastball and curve both generate plenty of swings and misses, an element that has been missing in the A’s bullpen. He could end up being that late inning weapon that they desperately need; provided, of course, that he can harness his stuff consistently.

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The Oakland A’s need to find a closer for the 2023 season. If he performs well and shows better command, Zach Jackson could end up with the role.

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