The Athletics’ bullpen has had a solid reputation over the last couple of seasons. That’s much in part to Liam Hendriks, who earned a 2019 All-Star selection and 2020 AL Reliever of the Year Award honors. He boasted a 1.79 ERA across those two seasons before leaving for the Chicago White Sox in free agency.
But A’s general manager David Forst says the bullpen, at the moment, is something he and manager Bob Melvin have discussed possibly making improvements in order to keep that reputation alive.
“Yeah, it’s early to kind of think about,” Forst told NBC Sports California on Wednesday, “but I think the one thing Bob and I are constantly talking about is just lengthening out the bullpen, I know he feels like already, you throw [Yusmeiro] Petit out there for two innings the other night, he’s getting used a lot, J.B.[Wendelken]’s pitching a lot, I think he’s looking for one or two more guys out there that could really step up.”
Forst added there will be some role changes now that Mike Fiers is back from a stint on the injured list after sustaining a lumbar strain at the beginning of the season. The veteran pitcher will come out of the bullpen for the time being.
“We’ll figure out the best spot for him,” Forst said.
“That’s really the only thing early in the season you worry about is just kind of burning those guys out,” Forst added.
The bullpen also faced a setback with Trevor Rosenthal, who landed on the 60-day IL after being diagnosed with severe neurovascular compression.
Melvin said guys up and down the roster will get off days this season, especially Jed Lowrie, who despite his production is a bit "older" (those are Melvin’s words, not mine). Lowrie also also underwent surgery this offseason. Forst confirmed that, and said position players will get some rest throughout the season -- as much as we would love to see third baseman Matt Chapman play every game.
Chapman got an off night on Tuesday night and shortstop Elvis Andrus will sit out Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The return of outfielder Chad Pinder will be imperative to the team’s success as well.
He sustained a left knee sprain at the beginning of April, but Melvin offered an update Wednesday saying Pinder is feeling great, and once the A’s return home Friday, he could join the alternate training site squad and go from there. Pinder has started baseball activity.
“Getting a Chad Pinder and Burch Smith back off the IL are going to be important things, so we like to sit back in April and May and not tinker too much because you want to know really what you’ve got,” Forst added, “but there are a couple of things Bob and I are talking about for sure.”