The Oakland A's have a new player on the roster Monday, as relief pitcher Andrew Triggs is up for a cup of coffee. The team sent down fifth starter Eric Surkamp and won't need to promote his replacement until next weekend, so in the meantime they have space for an extra arm in the bullpen. Let's meet the new guy!
First, the basics. Triggs is a right-handed reliever, and he turned 27 in March. He was drafted by the Royals out of USC, but we won't hold either of those facts against him. After a quick pit stop in Baltimore's system last year, he was released this spring and eventually claimed by Oakland. The big righty throws sidearm, but not to the extent of a submariner like Chad Bradford nor even Pat Neshek -- he described it as a "low three-quarters arm slot" with a "crossfire [delivery]" in a story by Steve Melewski of MASN.
Triggs has consistently posted great numbers at every stop in the minors, though he has generally been on the older side for his leagues since he didn't start his pro career until age 23. In particular, he has posted big strikeout totals and tiny walk rates just about every year of his career. The Ks eluded him in Double-A in 2014, but he figured things out the next year in his second shot at the level:
Triggs 2015, Double-A: 43 games, 1.03 ERA, 61 ip, 70 Ks, 11 BB, 0 HR, 42 hits
That's a monster season, though again, he was 26 at the time. In addition to his control of the strike zone (4.46 career K/BB rate), he also generates a lot of ground balls, and that has helped him limit opponents to just seven homers in 243 minor league innings. As far as platoon splits, he's better against righties as you would expect, but he's also proven capable of retiring lefties as well. Overall, the stats are impeccable; there is nothing not to like except for his age at each level.
After joining the organization in March, Triggs began his season in Triple-A Nashville. He made six appearances for the Sounds, four of them scoreless, and in seven innings he recorded nine strikeouts and three walks. He did get blown up in one outing, giving him an unsightly 5.14 ERA, but after so few innings I'm more interested in the peripheral stats than a temporarily bloated ERA.
Over at MLB.com, Triggs is listed as Oakland's No. 29 prospect, though he doesn't appear on our own Community Prospect List partly because we had pretty much wrapped it up by the time he entered the picture. Here's a brief scouting report from MLB.com:
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45
The 6-foot-4 right-hander creates big-time deception by working from a sidearm slot and throwing across his body. His fastball sits between 90-94 mph and has late sinking action that yields a lot of weak contact on the ground. He has surprisingly good feel for a sweeping slider and will mix in a changeup, though the latter isn't as advanced as his two main offerings.
Triggs' fastball-slider combo is highly effective against right-handed hitters, and his downhill plane from the side helps him keep the ball in the park. He shouldn't require much more time in the Minor Leagues.
Melewski's profile echoes that report and also mentions a cutter in Triggs' arsenal, but the primary offerings seem to be the fastball/slider combo. His Double-A manager had this to say, via Melewski:
He sinks the ball and has a good sweeping slider that he usually keeps down and he changes speeds. He pitches average to a touch better with his fastball. But for the most part, it's about where he locates the ball and he has good life to his fastball.
Finally, Melissa Lockard's report at Oakland Clubhouse this morning includes a quote from A's minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson, comparing Triggs with former A's reliever Dan Otero for his ability to put movement on his pitches and induce grounders. Over at FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan was a big fan of Oakland's move to claim Triggs, and in his wonderful writeup there is a good GIF of a nasty slider.
Triggs' role in Oakland
Triggs is likely only here for a few days, but what kind of role will he fill while he's in the bigs? Susan Slusser notes that he can fill any role in the pen, and the numbers bear out that claim. Most importantly, he can be a long man -- of his 43 appearances last year, 17 lasted for at least four outs, 10 went at least two innings and four went at least three innings with a max of 62 pitches. Triggs can also handle high-leverage situations, as he racked up 20 saves in 2014 and 17 more last year. He last pitched on Saturday, throwing 29 pitches over two innings.
To wrap it up, we have a couple videos! This first one features Triggs retiring a lefty to end a game, as well as one of the more annoying broadcasting voices I've ever heard:
This next one gives a better view of his delivery, but it's also a bummer because he gives up a homer. On the bright side, the homer is hit by Russell Martin and the A's just left Toronto so they won't be facing him this week! Yay?
And that is Andrew Triggs, Oakland's newest reliever. Even if he's only here for a few days this time around, his promotion signals that he's high on the bullpen depth chart at Triple-A so there's a good bet we'll see him again this season.
And finally, an obvious nickname idea from "Coach Cleats" in the news post: "They call me Mr. Triggs!"
So Triggs' parents, Austin and Betsy, are coming up to Detroit from Nashville for series. He will make ML debut his first time in a game.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) April 25, 2016