Athletics

Athletics

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.

As it stands right now, Ryan Buchter is the only left-hander in the A's bullpen.

That could change before the season, as both David Forst and Billy Beane have said they would like to add another southpaw to the pen, but either way, Buchter figures to be Oakland's top left-handed specialist.

The A's avoided arbitration with Buchter by signing him to a one-year, $1.4 million contract earlier this month, and he certainly earned every penny. Last year, in his first season with Oakland, the 31-year-old was a perfect 6-0 with a 2.75 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 54 appearances.

Buchter relies mostly on his four-seam fastball, but also mixes in a cutter and curveball. He owned left-handed batters in 2018, limiting them to a .169/.231/.265 slash line. The A's will count on that type of dominance again this season.

Baseball-Reference projects Buchter to go 4-2 with a 3.53 ERA and 1.22 WHIP next season. They predict 52 strikeouts and 20 walks in 51 innings.

We expect Buchter to put up even better numbers than last season. After a mediocre first half, he really found his rhythm down the stretch, allowing just two runs in his final 15 2/3 innings. We believe that will continue in 2019.

Projection: 5-2, 2.49 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 51 K, 19 BB, 48 IP