Athletics

Joba Chamberlain explains why bullpens are getting more respect lately

Joba Chamberlain explains why bullpens are getting more respect lately

MLB relief pitchers are getting more respect than they did back in Joba Chamberlain’s day.

It wasn’t that long ago that the 10-year veteran pitcher retired in 2016, but he has noticed the players coming out of the bullpen now are getting the recognition they deserve.

“When I came into the game, there were only two dudes throwing 100 [mph], it was me, and Joel Zumaya,” Joba Chamberlain said on the latest episode of ‘Balk Talk.’ “Now -- it’s like, if you’re not throwing 100, they’re like ‘What are you doing? You’re not even part of this bullpen.’”

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]
 

The A’s have proved Chamberlain's point recently. The fastball velocity from A’s bullpen arms averages 94.1 miles per hour, good for the 12th highest in the league. While it’s not always about the velocity coming out of the bullpen that changes the game, those relief arms in Oakland are 3-0 to start the season.

“If you look what’s transpired over the last, probably 10 years, I think they’ve put an emphasis on how much bullpens are important and how they can shorten the game,” Chamberlain said.

With a 60-game season underway, reliable relief arms are more important than prior seasons. Every pitch matters, and it’s noticeable when those relievers aren’t available.

A’s manager Bob Melvin admitted that he’s dipped into his bullpen quite a bit since the start of the season. That happens, especially with every game amplified. But we’re getting to the point where the starters are able to go deeper into games, which is great news for starters and relievers alike.

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The monetary respect is there as well. Over the last couple of seasons, there have been trends where relief pitchers were getting paid more than starters. The A’s, along with the Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres and even the New York Yankees, spent more on their relievers than starters in 2018. 

It doesn't sound like that will change anytime soon.

“I think there is a very, very valuable aspect of what people are putting on the backend of the bullpen. More so now than 10, 15 years ago,” Chamberlain said. 

Dave Stewart calls Astros 'cheaters,' thanks them for Ramon Laureano

Dave Stewart calls Astros 'cheaters,' thanks them for Ramon Laureano

Dave Stewart had one of the most intimidating stares in MLB history. When the A's pitcher turned NBC Sports California analyst gave you that look, it was game over. 

Stewart once again brought the heat Monday night on A's Postgame Live after Oakland's 11-1 blowout win over the Seattle Mariners. Everyone loves a good dig at the Houston Astros, and Stewart didn't hold back. 

"He's solid, he is a solid player," Stewart said of A's outfielder Ramon Laureano. "How the A's got this guy is unbelievable. And what it took to get is unbelievable in Houston. Houston, thanks once again, you cheaters."

The Houston Astros selected Laureano in the 16th round of the 2014 MLB Draft. Just three years later, Houston traded the outfielder to Oakland in November 2017 for pitcher Brandon Bailey. 

Laureano, 26, made his MLB debut the next season and has been an integral player for the A's ever since. He hit .288 with five homers and seven stolen bases in just 48 games in 2017, following it up with another .288 season last year. Laureano also added 24 long balls and swiped 13 bags. The center fielder is hitting .324 with two home runs and nine RBI through 10 games this season. 

[RELATED: A's eight-run inning vs. Mariners not as rare as expected]

Bailey, 25, made his big league debut this season for Houston out of the bullpen.

Laureano has one of the best arms in baseball, can knock the ball over the fence and steal a base for extra credit. This was one of the A's best trades in recent memory, and Stewart will remind the Astros as much as he can.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Khris Davis' first home run of 2020 MLB season thrills A's teammates

Khris Davis' first home run of 2020 MLB season thrills A's teammates

Khris Davis connected for his first home run of the season in the A’s 11-1 thumping of the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.

It was a shot to left centerfield, into the A's bullpen filled with teammates. 

As he rounded the bases, the bullpen stood up and cheered for him. Starter Frankie Montas, in the dugout, looked more excited than Davis was.

“He needed that, you know?” Montas told reporters after the game. “Just for him to be able to have that day today -- it was huge for him.”

Davis had a stellar 2018 season hitting 48 homers, the most in the league that year. He followed that with a tough 2019 and even rougher beginning of the 2020 season. 

This was well-needed.

“All the way around, really good at-bats,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He felt good today, and you could tell he looked comfortable in the box today so it’s a good start. We’ll see where we go from here, but obviously we know this guy is one of the bigger bats that we’ve had in this organization.”

Davis also showed discipline at the plate with a nine-pitch at-bat in the fifth inning during an eight-run outburst for the A’s. He ended up walking after fouling off four pitches. That at-bat was what led outfielder Stephen Piscotty to believe something was about to happen. Well that, and the fact that Davis made a prediction before the game.

[RELATED: A's eight-run inning on two outs, not a rare feat]

“He looked great today,” Piscotty said. “It was funny -- in BP, he said he was going to go off, and he sure did.”

“We’ve been seeing it,” Piscotty said. “He’s been working really hard and putting the time in and it was nice to see it pay off.”

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]