Editor's note: For the past few weeks, NBC Sports California has been analyzing a different A's player each day to project their numbers for next season.
Liam Hendriks might be the most versatile pitcher in the A's bullpen. The 29-year-old right-hander can pitch middle and late relief, and he even started (opened) eight games last season.
Hendriks finished the year 0-1 with a 4.13 ERA and 1.46 WHIP, but he was truly a different pitcher after recovering from hip surgery. Following his September call-up, he allowed just two runs and eight hits in 13 innings, striking out 10 and walking three.
The improvement was largely due to an increase in velocity. Hendriks' fastball, which hovered in the low 90s early in the season, shot up to 96 mph in September. He compliments that fastball with a solid slider, and occasionally mixes in a curveball and changeup.
Baseball Reference predicts Hendriks to go 2-2 with a 4.02 ERA and 1.28 WHIP next season. They project him to strike out 48 and walk 16 in 47 innings.
We expect Hendriks to build on his impressive September and post better numbers all-around. Oakland while likely use him in a variety of roles once again, including as an opener, where he proved quite effective last year.
The key for Hendriks will be hitting his spots with his fastball and pitching ahead in the count. If he can do that, he could have a career year.
Projection: 4-2, 3.04 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 51 K, 19 BB, 51 IP