Even though the Oakland Athletics are first in the American League West and have a six and a half game lead over the Texas Rangers, one would not believe the A’s success during the month of September if they just looked the bullpen. The Athletics’ bullpen helped lead the team to numerous victories during the first half of the season, but now they are wavering, which is causing concern with the end of the season being so near.
In the past ten games, Grant Balfour has a 7.45 ERA and had a 5.06 ERA for August. Over these 9.2 innings, Balfour allowed six earned runs and 17 base runners.
Then there is Ryan Cook who, in 12 games, has acquired two losses and three blown saves. This includes six runs and 20 hits over 7 ⅔ innings. Last night, he allowed two runs which gave up the Athletics’ lead in the sixth inning. Thankfully Coco Crisp pulled through with a two run home run in the eighth.
Starting pitcher Bartolo Colon had a win streak that lasted from mid-May through the end of June and was pronounced the American League Pitcher of the Month for June. But from early July to September, Colon acquired an injury and had a five game losing streak.
Dan Straily, who performed poorly during the first half of the season and was even optioned to Triple-A in July so that Sonny Gray could join the A’s bullpen, has been faring decent at best since returning to the Athletics. Since being back, Straily still has not been pitching great with a 4.44 ERA for August. Even though he has earned a few wins in September, Straily allowed three runs on three hits in 5 ⅔ innings in last night’s game.
Jarrod Parker, who is has been on a hot streak lately and rarely gives up many runs, gave up eight runs in 4.1 innings on Monday. This loss caused his ERA to rise from 3.55 to 3.81. Many say he was struggling since he was recovering from a recent illness, so we will have to wait and see how he fares in his next outing against the Minnesota Twins.
Sean Doolittle was struggling and had a 18.90 ERA over a five game period in August, but was able to earn a win last night against the Minnesota Twins after pitching a perfect 1 ⅓ innings to close the game. For the month of September, he has a 0.90 ERA. Hopefully this success will continue.
A.J. Griffin, who leads the A’s bullpen in strikeouts this year, has been the most consistent pitcher for the Athletics this season even though he currently has a 3.78 ERA. Sonny Gray has been another leader for the Athletics bullpen since being pulled up from Triple-A in July. With a 2.50 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP, Sonny has a 3-3 record and shows promise for the years to come.
Even though some pitchers show that they have the strength to continue into the postseason, the rest of the rotation looks as though they needs a break to recuperate from a long season. If the Athletics make it to the postseason, they will definitely not win the World Series without a solid bullpen. The A’s pitching rotation is going to need to do something to turn their struggles into successful outings.