Athletics

A's bullpen turns back the clock with dominant effort in win vs. Astros

A's bullpen turns back the clock with dominant effort in win vs. Astros

OAKLAND -- It's no secret that the A's bullpen has dealt with its share of struggles this season. Heck, we literally just published an article about it earlier Friday.

But on Friday night, Oakland's pen turned back the clock to 2018. Blake Treinen, Jake Diekman, Joakim Soria, and Lou Trivino combined to pitch seven scoreless innings against a relentless Astros lineup, leading the A's to a thrilling 3-2 win in 13 innings.

"It was a big night for a lot of guys, and maybe some guys who were struggling a little bit really emerged," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "We saw the type of stuff that we saw last year. So hats off."

The final numbers? Seven innings, no runs, three hits, two walks (one intentional), and nine strikeouts. It was a performance made even more impressive by the fact that Melvin was down his top two bullpen arms -- Liam Hendriks had pitched the previous two days and Yusmeiro Petit the last three.

Instead, Oakland had to turn to four relievers with ERAs above four. And all four came through in a big way.

"I would love to not give up a single run -- all of us -- and absolutely dominate a game like we did today," Trivino said. "It's awesome. Baseball's not like that, unfortunately, so it's nice to have a good night like this. Lord willing, it continues."

Trivino was especially impressive, extending himself for three innings and 41 pitches. He allowed just a single hit and an intentional walk, pitching around a rare Matt Chapman error in the 13th inning to earn his fourth win of the year.

"That's huge for him," Melvin said. "You have to go out there and be perfect to not lose the game. I think this was great for his confidence as well. That's a really tough lineup he went through for three innings. He hasn't done that in quite some time. Really impressive to see."

Trivino joked that it was nice to finally answer reporters' questions after a positive outing, which have been far too rare this season.

"It seems like recently, it's been telling you guys how terrible I am," Trivino said. "I finally felt behind the ball today. I was able to attack the hitters and throw all of my pitches for strikes. It was something that I really needed and I'm thankful that I was able to pull through for the team and give us a chance to win."

Soria's performance was just as important, as he grinded through two exhausting innings and 43 pitches himself. The veteran right-hander also had to overcome an error, picking up second baseman Corban Joseph in the 10th.

"Soria was impressive too because he was completely out of gas," Melvin said. "But when I went out to talk to him, he had no part of coming out of that game. He wanted that last out."

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Perhaps this will be the night that changes the fortunes for Oakland's bullpen. Maybe they can regain last season's form for the rest of the year.

At the very least, Friday provided an enormous boost of confidence for four pitchers who desperately needed it.
 

A's closer Liam Hendriks a finalist for AL Reliever of the Year award

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A's closer Liam Hendriks a finalist for AL Reliever of the Year award

A's closer Liam Hendriks is one of three finalists for the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award.

Hendriks is joined by Astros closer Roberto Osuna and Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman. The NL finalists are Josh Hader, Will Smith, and Kirby Yates.

Hendriks, 30, enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, recording a 1.80 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. The right-hander notched 124 strikeouts in 85 innings, an A's franchise record for relievers, compared to just 21 walks.

Hendriks took over closing duties from Blake Treinen in the middle of the season and finished with 25 saves, along with eight holds. His 124 punchouts led AL relief pitchers and his 1.80 ERA ranked second among AL relievers with at least 40 innings.

Osuna posted a 2.63 ERA and 0.88 WHIP, with 73 strikeouts in 65 innings. Chapman finished with a 2.21 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, striking out 85 in 57 innings.

[RELATED: Hendriks' energy a big part of A's success]

The voting will be conducted by a panel of eight all-time great relief pitchers: Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith, John Franco, and Billy Wagner. Both the AL and NL awards will be presented on October 26, before Game 4 of the World Series.

Why A's should move on from Robbie Grossman in final arbitration year

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Why A's should move on from Robbie Grossman in final arbitration year

Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine 10 A's players who may or may not return to Oakland next season. For each player, we will provide reasons why the A's should bring him back and reasons why they should not, followed by a final determination.

Robbie Grossman, OF

Contract: Final year of arbitration (projected to get $3.3 million after earning $2 million this season)

Reasons to bring him back

Grossman provides versatility as a switch-hitter who can play all three outfield positions. He also has a strong record of reaching base, maintaining a .351 on-base percentage throughout his career.

The A's lineup is extremely right-handed heavy and they could certainly use another left-handed bat, particularly in the outfield. For $3.3 million, Grossman could add some value as a fourth or fifth outfielder.

Reasons to let him go

Grossman is coming off his worst season since 2015, hitting just .240/.334/.348 with six home runs and 38 RBI in 138 games. The 30-year-old has never provided much power, averaging just six homers per season in his career, with a high of 11 in 2016.

Oakland already has a crowded outfield with Ramón Laureano, Mark Canha, Stephen Piscotty, and Chad Pinder. The A's also have Dustin Fowler, Skye Bolt, and Seth Brown awaiting their opportunity in the minor leagues. Grossman isn't necessarily an upgrade over any of those names.

Final verdict

Due to their excellent outfield depth, the A's should move on without Grossman in 2020. That $3.3 million could be better spent in other areas -- relief pitching, as an example.

[RELATED: A's stay or go candidate for 2020 season: Josh Phegley]

If Grossman were to return, he would almost certainly be a bench player, and as we've noted, Oakland has plenty of other options to fill those fourth and fifth outfielder roles for far less than $3.3 million.