While the trade deadline acquisitions to the Oakland Athletics‘ starting rotation have been getting all of the recent headlines, their bullpen has been getting overlooked. And in that stretch of time Sean Doolittle and company haven’t been just good, they’ve been historically good. The bullpen set an Athletics team record for consecutive innings pitched without allowing an earned run, a streak that reached 28.2 IP with Doolittle’s save in the team’s 6-5 win over the Minnesota Twins Friday night.
Realistically, Oakland has four guys in its bullpen that almost any team in baseball would love to have as its closer. The phenomenal group starts with Fernando Abad, who has a ridiculous 1.79 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP across 45.1 IP. Abad has allowed just nine earned runs in the entire 2014 season, and his 8.14 K/9 ranks third on the entire team.
Then there’s Luke Gregerson, who pitched the eighth inning of the A’s win Friday night to earn his 18th hold. He is also having a spectacular season, owning a 1.84 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP, and the reliever has struck out 45 batters over 53.2 IP. He’s not the Athletics’ closer, but there are a handful of teams who would love to have him as their’s.
Dan Otero is another A’s reliever whose performing at an extremely high level, as he’s quietly having a spectacular season. Otero has pitched 64.0 innings and has exhibited remarkable control, walking just nine batters in 2014. He owns a 2.25 ERA and might be the unsung hero out of all of Oakland’s pitchers. He’s an incredibly solid reliever, and he will undoubtedly help Oakland make a deep October run.
Finally, there’s Sean Doolittle, the Athletics’ closer. His ERA is 2.49, but that isn’t the most eye-opening stat he owns. Doolittle’s WHIP is a microscopic 0.63, and he’s walked just four batters over 50.2 IP. He isn’t widely-considered baseball’s best closer, but he undoubtedly has the best command of all the closers, and that’s a statement that really can’t be argued.
Having such a talented group to rely on is a massive advantage for Oakland heading down the stretch in 2014, and the team’s bullpen is likely to be well-rested come playoff time. With the recent acquisitions of Jeff Samardzija and Jon Lester to accompany Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir, there will be many games when the A’s bullpen isn’t stretched far at all thanks to the team’s exceptional starting rotation.
While it’s often overlooked, Oakland’s bullpen could very well be the force that propels the Athletics to the team’s first World Series since 1989.