This past week, the Oakland A’s bullpen went through some changes. Starter Dan Straily was optioned for Triple-A in Sacramento while A’s reliever Ryan Cook came out of Wednesday’s game with a strained forearm. Replacing Straily in the starting rotation is lefty Drew Pomeranz who had previously been a long reliever for the Athletics. Additionally, relievers Joe Savery and Fernando Rodriguez were called up from the Sacramento River Cats in order to fill the openings in the bullpen.
These recent changes just add to the long list of transformations the Athletics bullpen has undergone so far this season. At the start of the season, the Oakland A’s pitching staff was perceived as one of the strongest in the MLB this season. So have these latest adjustments upgraded or downgraded their bullpen?
Pomeranz replacing Straily in the starting rotation is an upgrade. Straily had been struggling recently especially when it comes to controlling his fastball. With a 4.93 ERA, he has allowed 33 hits and 21 earned runs in 38.1 innings. Manager Bob Melvin also mentioned that Straily’s velocity has been dipping.
Even though another Athletics starter, Tommy Milone, has been less successful than Straily this season, Milone has more experience pitching in the MLB and there are more apparent pitching mechanic issues with Straily. My guess is that if Milone continues to be unsuccessful and Straily is able to regain command over his fastball while in Sacramento, Milone will soon be optioned for Triple-A and we will see Straily back in the rotation.
Pomeranz on the other hand has been great. Even though he began the year as long reliever in the Athletics bullpen, he had been a starter in previous MLB seasons with the Colorado Rockies. On Wednesday, he was able to debut his skills as a starter when he took the mound against the Seattle Mariners during a double header. Pomeranz pitched a solid five innings where he only allowed two hits and no runs. This season, Pomeranz has a 1.45 ERA and has only allowed three earned runs in 18.1 innings pitched. If he continues down this path of success, he will definitely make the Oakland A’s starting rotation even stronger.
Even though Cook has been placed on the disabled list for 15-days with forearm soreness, both Cook and Melvin do not believe that this is a very serious injury. In order to fill the two open spots in the bullpen with Pomeranz now in the starting rotation and Cook on the DL, left handed pitcher Savery and righty Rodriguez have come up from Triple-A.
This is Rodriguez’s first season since undergoing Tommy John’s surgery in 2013, and he has been outstanding up in Sacramento. He had a 0.73 ERA in Triple-A and has not allowed a run in his last eight appearances. However, he has not pitched in a big league game since October of 2012. If he is able to maintain this success in a major league game setting, then this will definitely be an upgrade for the Athletics bullpen.
Savery came to the Athletics in February of this year off waivers. Last season with the Philadelphia Phillies, he bounced around between the majors and minors. He made 18 appearances in the majors for the Phillies and earned a 3.15 ERA. This season with the River Cats, Savery has a 3.86 ERA over 10 relief appearances.
Even though Savery has not been amazing like Rodriguez, he is not injured like Cook and he is a left-handed pitcher. Fernando Abad and Sean Doolittle are the only other left-handed relievers in the Oakland A’s bullpen, and Doolittle has been struggling to find success recently. Savery will certainly add some extra left-handed pitching backup support for the Athletics. However, this move is neither an upgrade or downgrade for the Athletics’ bullpen since the Athletics already has an all-star bullpen and Savery is just an average but reliable pitcher.
The Oakland A’s bullpen has gone through some major changes since spring training however one thing remains the same – they have one of the strongest bullpens in the MLB. Even with the most recent transformation, I can confidently say that the success of the Oakland A’s pitching staff will continue. Now, if the Athletics could only ramp up their defense back to what it was like in 2013, they will be unstoppable.