The A’s bullpen has been looking mighty fine early in the 2020 MLB season.
Heading into Sunday’s 6-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels, the A’s bullpen had been pretty sensational.
“It’s exciting, obviously you have a bunch of guys who have done it before, filtered in with a couple of the new guys,” A’s reliever Liam Hendriks told reporters after the game. “We have [Jordan] Weems out there as well.”
Hendriks then explained that he had known T.J. McFarland previously, and the new face of Burch Smith, who could be an asset to relieve Yusmeiro Petit in some of those multi-inning scenarios, was added to the pen as well. Hendriks said having most of the core back was helpful.
Jake Diekman returned this season and A's manager Bob Melvin said the southpaw has some sneaky velocity and credited his slider which has looked more consistent. It's a pitch Diekman had been working on which could cause some damage coming from the left side, especially against righties.
“We have a pretty diverse pen out there and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Hendriks added.
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It’s diverse, and it’s durable. And it looks to continue that way. Melvin credited the fact that they haven’t been overusing any of the relievers, which adds to the success.
The team will eventually push the starters to go longer, of course, but until then, their setup looks great and their confidence shows.
“Every single guy that threw today was able to kind of go out there and put up a scoreless inning -- it’s always weird, those first couple, you’re never sure where you’re at, where you’ll be as good as last year, and it’s very tough this summer camp thing because you’re pitching against your own guys where it’s really hard to get that adrenaline going,” Hendriks said.
Heading into Sunday’s game, the A’s had the third-highest Average Leverage Index (1.401) in the league.
The Average Leverage Index measures the pressure pitchers face during a game, and 1.0 aLI is considered average, so A's relievers are being put into high-pressure situations. And, yes it’s a small sample size, but before you fill my comments about this, it’s something to pay attention to. The team has been able to dip into their pen and cause destruction from happening, minus a few bumps in the road.
Yes, it’s early, but more and more we’re able to see just how different the arms are, but all of those molded together cause to fill in holes starters might create.
That’s a pretty cool thing.