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Oakland A's option Ryan Cook to Triple-A Nashville

The right-handed reliever had been struggling all spring to the tune of an ERA over 16.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Athletics announced immediately following today's 14-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs that reliever Ryan Cook has been optioned to Triple-A Nashville.

There had been strong hints coming from Oakland's beat writers that a roster shake up was afoot, including this tweet from the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser this morning:

Ryan Cook earned an All-Star appearance in 2012 after taking over the closer role from Grant Balfour before later relinquishing it. His 2014 start was hampered by two trips to the disabled, right shoulder inflammation that crept up in spring camp followed by a right forearm strain that caused him to miss a month.

He pitched just 50 innings to a 3.42 ERA in 2014, nearly a run higher than the 2.54 he put up in 2013. If you had a bad feeling whenever he entered a game with runners aboard, it was justified. He allowed 12 of 29 inherited runners to score in 2014, and 15 of 30 in 2013. This tendency appears to have resulted in him being given much lower leverage innings, dropping from an average Leverage Index of 1.619 to .961 from 2013 to 2014, according to Baseball Reference.

The bullpen battle

The result of this move is that for opening day there are at least two bullpen spots opening up after Tyler Cilppard, Dan Otero, Fernando Abad, and Eric O'Flaherty. Assuming one of Jesse Chavez or Drew Pomeranz will be the team's long reliever, Evan Scribner and R.J. Alvarez are the leading candidates to take those spots. Pat Venditte and Brock Huntzinger are the two other remaining relievers in major league camp, both are non-roster invitees.