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Oakland A’s activate Ryan Dull, place Liam Hendriks on DL

Swapping out one injured reliever for one who’s back to health.

Thrilled to be back!
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s activated right-handed relief pitcher Ryan Dull from the disabled list Saturday, the team announced. To make room on the roster, fellow righty reliever Liam Hendriks was placed on the 10-day DL with a groin strain.

Dull missed most of the spring to a shoulder strain and opened the year on the shelf. After three rehab outings in the minors, though, the 28-year-old is ready to return and help shore up the A’s shaky bullpen. Dull debuted in 2015 and spent 2016 as a lockdown setup man, but he struggled to repeat his success in 2017 and missed two months to a knee strain.

Dull, 2016: 2.42 ERA, 74⅓ ip, 73 Ks, 15 BB, 10 HR, 3.58 FIP, 18-of-21 save/holds
Dull, 2017: 5.14 ERA, 42 ip, 45 Ks, 16 BB, 7 HR, 4.54 FIP, 20-of-22 save/holds

At his best, Dull exhibits pinpoint control of his low-90s fastball and then wipes hitters out with his plus slider. He relies heavily on that slider, using it more than a third of the time, and as a consequence there’s always a chance he can hang one for a homer. But when he’s on his game he can dominate for stretches, like in 2016 when he stranded his first 36 inherited runners of the season to set an MLB record.

Meanwhile, Hendriks is off to another poor start amid an enigmatic A’s career. He has all the ingredients that should add up to a good reliever, but time after time the full package ends up underwhelming. In six short relief outings this year, only once has he retired every batter he faced, and in his last full appearance on Tuesday he let all four hitters reach base. Furthermore, his velocity is down 2 mph from normal (down to 93), according to Brooks Baseball, which might have been related to this injury.

Hendriks, 2018: 6 games, 9.00 ERA, 3 ip, 1 K, 3 BB, 1 HR, 9.69 FIP

The 29-year-old faced one batter on Friday and allowed another hit, before being pulled due to the groin injury. This is his first DL stint since early 2016, when he struggled, sat out to heal, and then looked excellent upon return.

Oakland’s bullpen now features (lefties marked with an L):

  • Blake Treinen
  • Yusmeiro Petit
  • Ryan Buchter (L)
  • Ryan Dull
  • Emilio Pagan
  • Danny Coulombe (L)
  • Santiago Casilla
  • Chris Hatcher
  • Also on 40-man roster (AAA): Josh Lucas, Lou Trivino, and swingmen Daniel Gossett and Chris Bassitt

The A’s are expected to make a couple more roster moves in the coming days, according to the team insiders. Injured utilityman Chad Pinder is on a minor league rehab assignment and could return from the DL as soon as Monday. Starting pitcher Trevor Cahill, who needed a couple games in the minors to finish preparing after signing late in free agency, is likely to debut in Oakland on Tuesday.