The Oakland A’s announced a flurry of moves Monday morning ahead of their series against the Tigers. Lefty reliever Ryan Buchter was activated from the disabled list, and to make room outfielder Nick Martini was optioned back to Triple-A Nashville. Furthermore, starting pitcher Edwin Jackson was added to the 40-man roster and called up; to make room for him on both the 25-man and 40-man rosters, reliever Liam Hendriks was designated for assignment.
Let’s begin with Buchter, who last pitched for Oakland on April 25 before going on the DL two days later with a strained shoulder. He was acquired last winter to serve as the primary southpaw in the bullpen, and he was on his way to being just that with a strong start to the season before his injury. After six scoreless rehab appearances in the minor leagues, he’s now fully back in action for the A’s.
Buchter, 2018: 1.69 ERA, 10⅔ ip, 11 Ks, 4 BB, 1 HR, 4-of-4 holds
Oakland is particularly thin when it comes to lefty relievers. After Buchter their sole MLB-quality backup is Danny Coulombe, who is only having a mediocre season himself. In spite of that weakness the bullpen has remained as perhaps the most dependable part of the 2018 roster anyway, but now it gets even more of a boost with the return of one of its top arms.
The pen also says goodbye to one of its weaker links, with the DFA of Hendriks. The right-hander was an enigma in his first two seasons with the A’s in 2016-17, posting excellent strikeout and walk numbers but only doing a mediocre job of preventing actual runs. His 2018 campaign was even worse, as he missed nearly two months to an unusual injury (cyst removed from hip). The 29-year-old appeared to be getting back on the horse since his return from the DL but got blown up again on Sunday in Chicago, and now he’s the odd man out.
Hendriks, 2016-17: 3.99 ERA, 128⅔ ip, 149 Ks, 37 BB, 13 HR, 3.04 FIP
Hendriks, 2018: 7.36 ERA, 11 ip, 12 Ks, 7 BB, 3 HR, 6.38 FIP
* Bright side: Converted 28-of-32 save/hold chances in Oakland career
The removal of Hendriks adds another level of flexibility to the A’s pen. They had three members who weren’t late-inning dynamos but also couldn’t be optioned down to Triple-A (Hendriks, Hatcher, Casilla), and now one of them is out of the picture. With a whole host of optionable relievers in Nashville who can taxi back and forth to Oakland when needed, there is now more room to move around for the rest of the year. Stay tuned to find out Hendriks’ ultimate fate: traded, waived, released, or reassigned to Nashville.
Next up is the addition of Jackson, who will make the start on Monday in Detroit. The A’s got rained out on Thursday and played a doubleheader Friday, so the rotation’s rest schedule got messed up and they needed a spot starter early this week. Jackson will answer that call, and along the way he’ll tie an MLB record by pitching for his 13th team. Monday will mark his 2018 debut after spending the whole season in Triple-A so far, first in Washington’s system and then three games in Nashville.
Jackson, 2018 AAA (OAK/WAS): 3.53 ERA, 71⅓ ip, 63 Ks, 30 BB, 5 HR, 3.95 FIP
The A’s signed the 34-year-old Jackson three weeks ago on a minor league contract, as emergency depth for their oft-injured rotation. Oakland currently has five starters on the DL and three more out of action in Triple-A, and on top of that Daniel Mengden is having an MRI on his sprained right foot to determine his immediate future, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. The only other healthy starter on the 40-man roster is Chris Bassitt (currently in Triple-A), who pitched on Friday and would presumably replace Mengden later this week if the latter lands on the DL.
In a fun bit of trivia, Monday happens to be the anniversary of Jackson throwing a no-hitter back in 2010. On the downside, though, it was one of the worst no-hitters in history, and the last time Jackson was even an average MLB starter was 2012 (since: 5.32 ERA, 4.55 FIP).
Finally, in the most routine move of the day, Martini went back to the minors to make room for the pitching shuffle. The outfielder only got one plate appearance in his latest stint with the A’s, but it was a big one. He entered as a pinch-hitter on Saturday and delivered his first MLB hit, a clean single to drive in the eventual game-winning run in his hometown of Chicago.
Martini, 2018 MLB: 1-for-10, RBI, 0 BB, 0 Ks, 0 XBH
He now returns to Nashville, where he’s been one of the Sounds’ best hitters (132 wRC+). Down in Triple-A he’s got a streak going in which he’s reached base in his last 54 consecutive games. He’ll celebrate his 28th birthday on Wednesday.
Here’s the updated roster:
Sean Manaea (L)
Daniel Mengden (R)?
Paul Blackburn (R)
Frankie Montas (R)
Edwin Jackson (R)
Blake Treinen (R)
Lou Trivino (R)
Yusmerio Petit (R)
Ryan Buchter (L)
Emilio Pagan (R)
Chris Hatcher (R)
Santiago Casilla (R)
Josh Lucas (R)
Jonathan Lucroy (R)
Josh Phegley (R)
Matt Olson (L)
Jed Lowrie (S)
Marcus Semien (R)
Franklin Barreto (R)
Khris Davis (R)
Stephen Piscotty (R)
Dustin Fowler (L)
Matt Joyce (L)
Mark Canha (R)
Chad Pinder (R)
10-day DL: RHP Trevor Cahill (Achilles), RHP Daniel Gossett (elbow), RHP Andrew Triggs (triceps), LHP Brett Anderson (shoulder), 3B Matt Chapman (hand)
60-day DL: RHP Jharel Cotton (TJS), OF Boog Powell (knee)