Ryan Cook had quietly been one of baseball’s best relievers for the Oakland Athletics, now he’s one of fantasy baseball’s biggest pickups.
Cook got his first crack at closing last night, tallying his first career save against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Oakland manager Bob Melvin has said the team is going to go with a closer by committee approach, but that never lasts.
Typically, what the means is the manager wants to see his unproven closer pick up a few saves, settle in and have some success before outright naming him the closer. Sure, Grant Balfour or Brian Fuentes may get another shot at the ninth inning here or there, but my guess is that Cook is the guy the team hopes takes the role and runs with it.
Cook kicked off the ninth last night by issuing a walk, then surrendered a single. He struck out the next two batters and induced a ground out to secure the save. Over 27 innings pitched this year, the 24-year-old has a 0.67 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 27 strikeouts. He has had a scoreless outing in 24 of his 25 appearances.
Cook, a 27th-round draft pick in 2008, was somewhat of an afterthought in this winter’s trade that sent Trevor Cahill to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The right-hander had a 7.04 ERA in 7.2 innings pitched in his first cup of coffee with the D-Backs last season.
A fastball-slider pitcher who occasionally mixes in a changeup, Cook averages about 95 mph on his fastball, so he certainly looks the part of potential dominant closer.
Oakland is 27-35, nine games back in the AL West, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth keeping an eye on. With so many young players emerging, fantasy baseball players have cashed in on a few sleepers. Also, major league front offices would be wise to follow Oakland, as they’ll surely be sellers in some capacity come the trade deadline.
The A’s started the year with Balfour (seven saves, 3.13 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, .198 BAA) as the closer but switched to Fuentes. After giving up seven earned runs over his past four appearances, Fuentes (5.24 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) has lost the job.