Oakland Athletics: What’s on their post-lockout to-do list

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 22: General view of the Oakland Athletics logos in the dugout before the game against the San Francisco Giants at the Oakland Coliseum on July 22, 2018 in Oakland, California. The Oakland Athletics defeated the San Francisco Giants 6-5 in 10 innings. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JULY 22: General view of the Oakland Athletics logos in the dugout before the game against the San Francisco Giants at the Oakland Coliseum on July 22, 2018 in Oakland, California. The Oakland Athletics defeated the San Francisco Giants 6-5 in 10 innings. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /
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OAKLAND, CA – AUGUST 20: Yusmeiro Petit #36 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at RingCentral Coliseum on August 20, 2021 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Giants 4-1. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA – AUGUST 20: Yusmeiro Petit #36 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at RingCentral Coliseum on August 20, 2021 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Giants 4-1. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Athletics only additions to the club should be in the bullpen

There are two right-handed bullpen arms that jump out as perfect candidates to join the Oakland A’s bullpen and they are old friend Yusmeiro Petit and World Series champ Collin McHugh.

For the 37-year old Yusmeiro Petit, the fit is obvious. A member of the Oakland A’s from 2018-2021, Petit appeared in a whopping 258 games over four seasons, topping 70 appearances in each of the non-COVID-shortened-2020 campaigns. Functioning exclusively as a jack-of-all-trades type of reliever for Oakland, Petit has been an invaluable asset to the club over the years and should definitely be on their list once the lockout is over.

Last season saw Yusmeiro Petit put up an 8-3 record, a 3.92 ERA, 1.0 WHIP and above-average PLUS% on three of his four primary pitches. While the four-seam fastball was the pitch that didn’t quite hit average when talking PLUS%, Petit’s cutter was actually the pitch that was hit the hardest last year. Opponents put up a .313 batting average and a .300 BABIP on the pitch, one that Petit used around 25% of the time.

Not much of a strikeout pitcher, Yusmeiro Petit’s game relies heavily on inducing soft-contact and ground balls, something he did 37% of the time in 2021, his highest mark since 2016 in Washington. Fortunately for Petit, he also does not walk many batters at all — just 1.38 BB/9 last season, finishing in the top-2% of the league in that category. Yusmeiro Petit has found late-career success in Oakland and should be high on the list of low-cost relief pitching options heading into 2022.

Collin McHugh, 34, is similar to Yusmeiro Petit in that he is a former starting pitcher who has found significant late-career success as a relief pitcher. Spending this past season as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays after opting out of 2020 due to COVID-19, McHugh was the owner of a 6-1 record, 1.55 ERA, 0.4 HR/9, and career-best 1.7 BB/9 with a 10.4 SO/9, good for a 6.17 K/BB rate.

McHugh was utilized in a variety of roles for Tampa Bay, including opener, long relief option, and even earned his first career save. He is a former World Series champ and has extensive experience in the postseason, albeit to mixed results. McHugh has a 4.18 ERA in 10 career postseason appearances over 23.2 innings.

Collin McHugh’s repertoire features five pitches: a slider, cutter, four-seam fastball, curveball and changeup (listed in order of usage in 2021). He relied heavily on his slider last year, using it over 50% of the time, to some really solid results. Sitting at just under 80 mph on average, McHugh’s slider registered just a .177 batting average against and a .256 BABIP while inducing nearly a 50% ground ball rate.

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Yusmeiro Petit and Collin McHugh are very similar pitchers who would fit nicely on the Oakland A’s roster in 2022. Both are nearing the ends of their respective careers, but are still more than capable of posting above-average numbers and inducing plenty of ground balls and weak contact. Both Petit and McHugh were in the top 4% of the league last year in Hard Hit%-against and McHugh finished in the top 2% of the league in Barrel %.