'Opener' Liam Hendriks, A's agree to one-year, $2.15M contract


'Opener' Liam Hendriks, A's agree to one-year, $2.15M contract

The A's have avoided arbitration with another relief pitcher, agreeing to a one-year, $2.15 million contract with right-hander Liam Hendriks, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

Earlier Friday, the A's locked up Ryan Dull on a one-year contract.

Hendriks, 29, went 0-1 with a 4.13 ERA in 25 appearances last season, but he was much more effective following his September call-up from Triple-A. The Australia native allowed just two runs in 13 innings for an ERA of 1.38.

Hendriks was forced to miss almost two months last season following surgery to remove a cyst from his right hip. He was designated for assignment in June with an ERA of 7.36, ending up in Triple-A Nashville.

But Hendriks took the demotion in stride, continuing to work hard on his recovery. He significantly increased his velocity, with his fastball living around 96 mph by September.

Of course, Hendriks also was the centerpiece of Oakland's experimentation with an "opener." He opened eight games in the final month of the season without allowing a single run in the first inning. His AL Wild Card Game "start" didn't go quite as well, as he allowed a two-run homer to the Yankees' Aaron Judge in the bottom of the first inning.

Hendriks' return adds depth and versatility to an already strong Oakland bullpen. He figures to be used primarily in a setup role for All-Star closer Blake Treinen, but he potentially could see some more "opening" opportunities throughout the season.

Mariners vs. A's lineups: Homer Bailey gets first start in Green and Gold


Mariners vs. A's lineups: Homer Bailey gets first start in Green and Gold

Homer Bailey will make his first start as a member of the Oakland A's on Wednesday at home against the Mariners. 

Get it? Because his name is Homer.

The 33-year-old was acquired on Sunday in a trade with the Royals. His last seven starts with Kansas City has him boasting a 3.49 ERA.

"To go to (a team) like this, it's definitely an energy boost," Bailey told reporters on Tuesday. "Guys who go to contending teams, maybe their game will elevate a little bit. It definitely brings in some energy that I haven't been a part of in a few years."

Bailey against the M's over his career is 1-1 with a 4.97 ERA.

The A's lineup will look slightly different with Khris Davis batting sixth. We're used to seeing him at the clean-up spot.

Seattle will send rookie righty Erik Swanson to the mound who will serve as an opener before handing the ball off to Tommy Milone. The young Swanson is 1-5 with a 7.98 ERA in six starts this season, but this will be his first time opening.

Game time is set at 12:37 p.m. PT with coverage on MLB Network.

Here are how the lineups look to take shape for the second and final game of the homestand before the boys head on the road for a seven-game road trip.

Seattle Mariners (39-59)

Mallex Smith, CF
J.P. Crawford, SS
Domingo Santana, RF
Omar Narvaez, DH
Tim Beckham, 1B
Kyle Seager, 3B
Tom Murphy, C
Dylan Moore, LF
Dee Gordon, 2B

Erik Swanson, P (1-5, 8.04 ERA)

Oakland A's (54-41)

Marcus Semien, SS
Matt Chapman, 3B
Matt Olson, 1B
Mark Canha, RF
Ramón Laureano, CF
Khris Davis, DH
Jurickson Profar, 2B
Chad Pinder, LF
Josh Phegley, C

Homer Bailey, P (7-6, 4.08 ERA)

How A's starter Daniel Mengden was able to turn his 2019 season around


How A's starter Daniel Mengden was able to turn his 2019 season around

OAKLAND -- Daniel Mengden's first five outings of the season did not go well.

While the A's right-hander posted a respectable 1-1 record, he allowed 13 earned runs in just 23 innings for an ERA of 5.09. Mengden's biggest problem was his command -- the 26-year-old issued 15 walks in those five outings, translating to nearly six walks per nine frames.

Not surprisingly, Mengden was demoted to Triple-A. But he didn't hang his head. Instead, he used the opportunity to improve, particularly his control.

Since returning to the A's late last month, Mengden has won all four of his starts, most recently a 9-2 victory over the Mariners on Tuesday night at the Coliseum. He tossed seven strong innings, allowing just one run on four hits.

Most importantly, Mengden has only walked one batter in 24 innings since getting called back up from Triple-A.

"It's amazing," he said. "I'm not a big punchout guy. I'm not going to blow anybody away all the time, so it's all about staying aggressive and being ahead because when I'm ahead, I'm always in the driver's seat."

A's manager Bob Melvin echoed that sentiment, explaining that Mengden's improved command has completely changed the way he can attack hitters.

"Putting guys on base usually means you're getting behind them," Melvin said. "Now, all of a sudden, you have guys on base and you're trying to pitch around traffic. So I think that's been the key since he's been back."

With Tuesday's win, Mengden improved to 5-1 on the season with a 4.21 ERA, down nearly a full run from a month ago. In addition to commanding his pitches better, he has effectively mixed speeds and locations to keep hitters off balance.

"It's just staying aggressive," Mengden explained. "Getting strike one, and trying to keep them off balance."

Added Melvin: "It's mixing pitches that's important to him and getting ahead. Then he gets way less predictable. When he's behind and now he has to come in with a fastball, he's a little easier to handle. So it all starts with strike one, it all starts with not putting guys on base."

Mengden accomplished that goal Tuesday night, throwing first-pitch strikes to 19 of the 25 batters he faced. In total, he threw 65 strikes, compared to just 31 balls.

[RELATED: Bailey gets 'energy boost' joining A's]

"That's huge for us," said A's third baseman Matt Chapman, who homered and drove in five runs. "Playing defense behind a guy who throws a lot of strikes and works quick, that's all you can ask for. ... (Mengden) is capable of doing really good things on the mound. I've seen it in the minor leagues and seen it at this level too. So to see him get into that groove is really good."

The A's hope Mengden stays in that groove for the rest of the season. As long as he continues to pitch ahead in the count, he should be in great shape.