Oakland Athletics Secret Weapon
Often times when someone mentions the Oakland Athletics, you think of a team stuck in the middle as well as an organization that is forced to continue to trade household names for prospects in return due to the market their in. You might also envision a team that once had the likes of Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes, Jon Lester, and Josh Reddick just to name a few.
Although there have been plenty of regrettable trades over the year's for the A's front office and fans alike, there are still some good things about the team's current roster which often get overlooked. One of those things relates to the talent in the Athletics bullpen.
On paper, the Athletics have a nasty bullpen with Ryan Madson, Ryan Dull, Sean Doolittle, Santiago Casilla, and John Axford. In fact, all five of those pitchers have previous experience closing games at various parts during their big league careers which gives Oakland an advantage over other teams within the division.
Last year, Oakland's bullpen finished 20th in the league, 10th in the American League, with a cumulative ERA of 4.01 in 561.1 IP. They ranked 10th in the MLB with 530 strikeouts, 17th in the league with 193 walks tying them with the Boston Red Sox, and 16th with 59 home runs given up over that span.
However, the Athletics front office staff made it a point this offseason to add more depth within the organization to improve the pen which they did with the signing of Santiago Casilla to a major league deal as well as the signing of free agent, Ross Detweiler, to a minor league contract.
Within the group of five pitchers at the backend of Oakland's bullpen, the biggest weapon would likely be, Sean Doolittle, in the opinion of many around the game. Doolittle was drafted by the Athletics in the 1st round of the 2007 Amateur Draft and has spent the past five seasons at the big league level.
In that span, Doolittle has posted a 3.07 ERA in 231.2 IP and will likely have success once again this coming season although he has dealt with injurys in the past. In 2015, he was put on the 60-day DL for a strained left shoulder, the same injury that was responsible for his DL stint last year.
Amid all of the constant rebuilding that the Athletics continue to go through, there are a few bright spots and one of them can be found in their bullpen. Hopefully with the right game plan put into place and the young prospects within the organization stepping up and providing a boost, Oakland can find themselves back in the playoff picture sooner rather than later.