In spite of an article stating otherwise, the Oakland Athletics really do not need another starting pitcher to stay competitive in 2018.
An article posted yesterday claimed that the Oakland Athletics need another starter to contend this season. Despite this, the Athletics do not need to add another starter via trade in order to have success should they make the postseason.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the Athletics should not add another starter, but fans should not fret if Jake Odorizzi is not in Oakland. Matt Harvey may bolster the rotation, but the A’s recognize that postseason success is based on a successful bullpen. By acquiring Jeurys Familia, the Athletics have one of the most dynamic 7-8-9 punches in the league.
Oakland currently has five starters on the disabled list, including Kendall Graveman in Triple-A Nashville. Only Jharel Cotton is not expected to come back and pitch this season. Despite injury histories for all Athletics pitchers, they have played next-man-up the entire year. There is no reason why success will slow as guys get healthy, besides normal regression.
The A’s bullpen has solid pieces that can enable a starter to last 5+ innings and not have the bullpen blow the lead. Yusmiero Petit, after starting off slow, has become a solid reliever for the A’s and is able to pitch multiple innings. He currently owns a 5.11 K/BB ratio and a 119 ERA+. Similarly, Emilio Pagan, after a demotion, has surged to be another solid reliever for the A’s this season. Pagan boasted a 1.23 ERA in June after an ugly 5.91 ERA in April to rebound from his slump. Off of injury, Ryan Butcher has become a solid lefty out of the ‘pen. In the past 30 days, Butcher owns a 2.00 ERA, and has a 1.83 ERA overall in 2018. His ERA+ is a strong 226.
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Solid bullpen pieces are necessary for any competitive team. Fortunately for the A’s, they have two dominate relievers- and the potential for a third. Although regression seems imminent, rookie Lou Trivino has burst from obsolescence to become the A’s setup man. A 336 ERA+ and a 10.2 K/9 has put him in consideration as a top reliever in the American League. Closer Blake Treinen, somehow possible, has been better. His ERA+ is a whopping 43, and the All-Star’s K/9 is 11.4. With a sub-1.00 ERA, Treinen was a lock as an All-Star and is one of the best closers in the game.
The A’s still have three more members of their bullpen in the majors currently. It has been hypothesized that Chris Hatcher will be DFA’d, so I’ll leave out analysis of him. Jeremy Bleich has been a great story- 10 years in the minors- but hasn’t looked good in two appearances. J.B. Wendelken looked good in his first appearance, but needs to prove that he can be a decent major league reliever.
Oakland has enough serviceable starters to go 5+ innings in a postseason game, from Sean Manaea to Frankie Montas or even Trevor Cahill. A postseason team only needs four starters due to off days in the postseason schedule. Should the Oakland Athletics add another solid reliever, they will not need to rely heavily on a weaker starting rotation. After all, bullpens win championships.