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Free Jesse Chavez!

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First of all, I want to acknowledge that Dan Otero has been the most confusing of the A's relievers to me over the past three years. He has always made me nervous, as my eyeballs see someone whose stuff is too marginal for set-up work, whose sinker flattens out or finds the middle of the plate too often, and yet more often than not his results have proven my eyes wrong. It is either an "eyeball fail" or a "regression waiting to happen" -- and perhaps happening -- but I am hard pressed to say which one it is.

That being said, I will continue to argue that Otero is not best utilized in the set-up role and apparently the A's agree at least that he should share the role if not yield it. That's where I believe not R.J. Alvarez (it's not yet "HIS TIME"), Fernando Abad or Eric O'Flaherty, not Evan Scribner, but too oft overlooked Jesse Chavez fits in.

"Atrophy =/= a trophy," as my great aunt's neighbor's cat's sitter's plumber used to say. Jesse Chavez has faced all of 11 batters in 11 games, despite the fact that for the first half of last season he was a legitimate #3 SP who would be leveraging 180 IP on most pitching staffs.

How great that the A's have not 4, not 5, but 6 quality SPs right now and can afford the luxury of putting someone like Chavez in the bullpen. He is wasted in long relief because in a bullpen that is increasing showing its vulnerabilities Chavez is likely one of the best arms down there.

Chavez, as a SP, offers a decent fastball, a cutter, curve, and changeup, and he throws a lot of strikes. Out of the bullpen in short relief, you can expect a couple more ticks on his fastball. Unlike pitch-to-contact stalwarts such as Otero and O'Flaherty, Chavez can miss bats -- especially if his fastball is coming in at 94 MPH instead of 92 MPH.

Meanwhile, I am a firm believer that a team needs a long reliever in its bullpen because no matter how confident you are in your starting pitchers you have to be prepared for that 3+ IP stint without decimating your pen for days to come. However, between Scribner and Otero I think you can count on enough long relief innings, for the occasional need, if Chavez is not in that role. {Added note: If you don't feel comfortable with that long relief option, perhaps a superior superior solution is just to send Alvarez down and call up a true long reliever such as Chris Bassitt.}

Don't get me wrong on Otero either: He is a valuable reliever who can go more than an inning, who can pitch 4 games out of 5, who is not daunted by LHs or RHs, who throws a ton of strikes, and who keeps the ball generally on the ground and in the ballpark. He's a luxury to have in low to medium leverage and to have for a variety of needs -- what he is not is "your 8th inning guy" because he is far from dominant. All this can also be said of O'Flaherty except that historically, when at his best O'Flaherty is simply a better version of the same profile.

Let's get Otero and O'Flaherty where they belong: A true luxury as the next group behind the "closer and set-up guys". Let's jump Chavez all the way from mop-up duty, where his skills are being utterly wasted, to the set-up role along with the left-handed complement, Fernando Abad (also a hard thrower with nasty stuff, a variety of putaway pitches, and the propensity to miss bats).

Meanwhile, let's find out over time where Scribner belongs and let him help ensure that long relief innings are not a concern, and let's give ourselves tremendous depth with Otero and O'Flaherty behind Chavez and Abad. Let's allow Alvarez to move himself up the depth chart as he gains experience and consistency.

Clippard, Chavez and Abad in highest leverage? O'Flaherty and Otero as your 4th and 5th relievers? Scribner and Alvarez {or Bassitt} as the back of your bullpen? That seems like a pretty good bullpen to me -- and one that will only get better when Sean Doolittle returns.

I don't see this as a bad bullpen at all. What I do see is that one of your best, and most proven, arms has faced 11 batters all year while a guy with a career 5.2 K/9IP ratio is being asked to serve in the role to which he is least suited. It all starts with jumping Chavez about 5 spots and I hope the A's have the sense to do it.