With three openings, A's bullpen competition heats up

With three openings, A's bullpen competition heats up
March 22, 2014, 12:30 pm
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Drew Pomeranz is 1-1 with a 2.89 ERA and 14 strikeouts to two walks in six appearances this spring. (USATSI)

With final roster cuts coming next weekend, the Oakland A’s still have several candidates fighting for spots in their seven-man bullpen.

Jesse Chavez’s move to the rotation has opened up a relief spot, and the likelihood that Ryan Cook will begin the season on the disabled list leaves another available spot.

Right now four relievers are cemented in the ‘pen -- closer Jim Johnson, Sean Doolittle, Luke Gregerson and Dan Otero.

Let’s take a look at the candidates for the remaining three spots, in alphabetical order:

Fernando Abad – The A’s figure to want at least one other left-handed reliever to complement Doolittle, and Abad has made a great early impression after coming over in an offseason trade from Washington. He’s struck out 10 and walked zero in nine appearances (9.0 innings). Abad has been hit hard in his previous major league experience, but he enjoyed a strong winter ball season and has carried that success over to the spring.

“If he throws strikes, he can get it up there around 96, 97 miles per hour,” A’s general manager Billy Beane said. “That’s a pretty good combo -- strikes at that velocity from the left side. He’s done that so far.”

Josh Lindblom – Another pitcher acquired via offseason trade, Lindblom has compiled a 4.09 ERA in five relief appearances. He has starting experience, and it would seem the A’s might want him pitching in Triple-A Sacramento’s rotation just in case they need to call upon a starter. But Lindblom also would appear a good long reliever candidate, and the A’s need one with Chavez now starting.

Drew Pomeranz – Like Lindblom, he’s a swing man that can fill either a starting or relieving role. Pomeranz’s ability to repeat his mechanics is the key to unlocking his considerable potential. He’s done that in recent relief outings, and pitching out of the stretch has helped him maintain those mechanics and improve his command. Beane mentioned Pomeranz as a potential long man for Oakland. Have the A’s seen enough this spring to convince them the lefty is ready for the big league bullpen come Opening Night?

Joe Savery – Claimed off waivers from Philadelphia early in camp, the lefty is squarely in the mix for a relief spot. He threw two shutout innings in an emergency start Monday when Scott Kazmir was scratched. The A’s aren’t looking to start him, but that outing showed Savery might be an effective reliever who can go multiple innings if needed.

Evan Scribner – He’s contributed in Oakland’s bullpen the past two seasons and has been good in Cactus League outings. Throw in the fact that A’s manager Bob Melvin has spoken well of him, and Scribner seems in good position to secure a bullpen spot to start the season.


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