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Athletics 2014 season review: Evan Scribner, the 8th man in the bullpen

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In 2015, Evan Scribner will make his third straight A's Opening Day roster.
In 2015, Evan Scribner will make his third straight A's Opening Day roster.
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

This next player should be pretty quick, because he only made 13 relief appearances for the A's last year: No. 58, Evan Scribner, the human boomerang.

Player profile

Name: Evan Scribner, aka Scribbles
Position: RHP, relief
Stats: 13 games, 4.63 ERA, 11⅔ innings, 11 Ks, 0 BB, 4 HR, 11 H
WAR: 0.0 bWAR, negative-0.2 fWAR
How he got here: Selected off waivers from San Diego Padres prior to 2011*
2014 Salary: $505,000
2015 Status: Pre-arbitration, under team control
2015 Salary: Salary not readily available (likely MLB minimum, $507,500)

* Even I had to look that one up

Season summary

For the third year in a row, Scribner was the extra guy in the bullpen. If the A's needed a fill-in for a few days or weeks, Scribner got the call. If they needed space for a new player or for someone returning from injury, Scribner was the first one to make the drive back to Sacramento. Over the past three seasons, he has been recalled from the minors nine times. He's a modern-day, right-handed, poor-man's Jerry Blevins.

Scribner made the Opening Day roster in both 2013 and '14, but he didn't make it out of April in either year before being sent back down; he's usually the guy who made it because someone else was hurt, and then when that someone else is healthy again Scribbles gets the axe. That's the case again in 2015, as he's filling in for the broken Sean Doolittle and the malfunctioning Ryan Cook. When one or both of them comes back, it's likely Scribner who will be the casualty unless space has cleared up for some other unforeseen reason.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's take a quick look at Scribner's 2014 season, which ... shouldn't take very long. Rather than starting with stats, it's best to gauge Scribner via transaction logs:

Made Opening Day roster
Sent down April 7 (Ryan Cook returns from DL)
Recalled June 17 (Drew Pomeranz goes on DL)
Sent down June 20 (Brad Mills activated)
Recalled July 24 (Jim Johnson DFA'd)
DFA'd August 1 (to clear space on 25-man roster for 2-for-1 Boston trade)
- Sent down Aug. 2 (Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes activated)
Recalled Aug. 28 (Pomeranz temporarily demoted for loophole reasons)
- Reassigned to minors Sept. 30 (b/c not on playoff roster)

In other words, he was in Oakland for the first week of the season, he came back for a few days in June (but didn't pitch), he returned for the last week of July, and then he was a slightly early September call-up. That's about three weeks plus September, when rosters are expanded anyway. To his credit, he made the most of his time in Triple-A and even served as the closer (check out that K/BB rate of 8.0):

Scribner, 2014 Triple-A: 40 games, 3.06 ERA, 47 innings, 72 Ks, 9 BB, 4 HR, 16 saves

In the Majors, Scribner found his way into 13 games, but he was never really in anything resembling a critical situation. He fell into a win when he tossed a scoreless inning in a game the A's trailed by three, only to see his teammates plate six in the next frame to steal a victory. He came in for a mop-up inning, and he ended up with an unexpected win on his record. (He's never been tagged with a loss or a blown save in 71 career games; he's been in two career save situations, earning one save and one hold).

Otherwise, Scribbles only pitched when the A's had already written off a loss or when they were already ahead by at least seven (seriously, that's the closest lead he was ever asked to protect). But, to his credit, he performed adequately in that role. He only allowed runs in four of those 13 games, and each time it was because he allowed a home run (as opposed to a prolonged rally -- he only twice allowed multiple baserunners in an inning, and never allowed more than three). Although four homers in only a dozen frames is worrisome, it's equally nice to see no walks in that span. I'd rather take my chances with a pitcher throwing strikes and maybe getting hit than throwing balls and definitely putting runners on base. At least some of those batted balls will find gloves, but none of those guys who walk will get lost on the way to first.

There's not much else to say about Scribner. He's a two-pitch guy -- his fastball has some zip but not enough movement, and his curve is good but not amazing. He's a totally solid 29-year-old, with nothing to suggest he can take a big leap forward but no reason why he can't go right on being solid for the indefinite future. If you need a guy to step in and fill some innings for you without embarrassing the team or drawing the ire of fans, Scribner can do that. He can even do it for multiple innings at a time, and he can miss enough bats to strike out some hitters along the way.

Scribbles was what we thought he was in 2014. He was perfectly competent but not indispensable, too good for Triple-A but only on the fringes of MLB, rarely here but always available. He was lurking in the shadows, stepping in only when help was needed. He was the Eighth Man of the bullpen.

2014 season grade, relative to expectations: C ... He was exactly what he was supposed to be, nothing more and nothing less.

2014 season grade, overall: C- ... His ERA+ was 83 and his peripherals were a mixed bag, but he was still basically replacement-level. I choose a C- over a D+ because of the zero walks.

Video highlights

MLB.com has one Scribner highlight from last season. Watch his curveball for strike three on the second batter!

***

Scribner is on the Opening Day roster for the third year in a row, and if you don't count players currently on the DL there is only one other guy who can make the same claim: Eric Sogard.* Scribbles may be around for a week this time, or he could manage to stick all year, but he's out of options now so the next time he goes down he'll have to clear waivers or be lost. Perhaps this is the year that the boomerang comes to rest in one place.

*(Doolittle, Coco, and Reddick as well, but in a way they aren't in the starting 25 this year since they aren't currently active. Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Ryan Cook, Nate Freiman and Fernando Rodriguez are the only other guys from the 2013 opening roster/DL who are still in the organization at all.)