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Fatrolf’s Monday Sketches: Hurlin Hendriks Has a Heroic First Half Edition

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And Hermm The Worm welcomes himself back in a BIG way!

There’s the A’s of yestermonth, then there are the A’s of right now. This is the team who can’t stop winning. The team that is heading into the All-Star break 17-for-24, outscoring opposition 135-88. This is the team who went from floundering to find a bullpen, to sending another reliever to the 2019 All Star Game. You know it’s a good sign when I struggle to fit all the good stuff that happened this week into a manageable read!

First and foremost, our bullpen has finally started to come together, just as we’re heading into the break, and in surprising ways. We had Wei-Chung Wang come up and dominate in his first month. Then, there’s Liam Hendriks.

Since we acquired him in late 2015, Hendriks has been okay. He would get more than a K per inning and he kept his walk rate low. However, an ERA around 4.00 over his first two seasons with the A’s made you hold your breath — or maybe flip the channel — whenever he was sent in. In 2018, he hit the DL and missed a chunk of time. Even after finishing the year with a good September, no one expected what 2019 would bring.

The 30-year-old from Perth, Australia blossomed out of his cocoon this season. Over 50.2 IP, Hendriks has only given up seven runs. And only one homer. His K/9 is a career-high 11.2.

Hendriks got the honor of being named Reliever of the Month for the American League in June, right before he was selected for his first All-Star Game appearance. Until further notice, he’s now the A’s closer.

Now, he will take off with Matt Chapman as both of them have earned slots in the 2019 All-Star Game. Neither Chapman nor Hendriks have ever appeared in an All-Star Game before, so our studs will have quite a bit to chat about on the flight over to Cleveland.

Chapman has been grinding since he showed up on the A’s roster in 2017, but really busted out in the second half of last season. Just to make sure the naysayers stayed at bay, Chapman roared into 2019 as hot as he’d exited the last. Except this year, he has almost eclipsed his 2018 season total of 24 dingers, with 21 thus far. He has truly proved himself to be an outstanding, well-rounded player, and getting to see his work recognized on the national level is all kinds of special.

What’s a good way to welcome yourself back from the DL? How does setting a franchise record on your first hit sound?

Catcher, Chris Herrmann (aka “Hermm The Worm”), finally made his way back to the A’s lineup just prior to the Twins series. The Worm did not waste any time showing the A’s what we’ve been missing. Stepping up to the plate in his second at-bat as an Athletic, Herrmann belted a monster of a grand slam, which put the A’s up and out of reach of the Twins in Tuesday’s 8-6 victory in the Coliseum. What a welcome!

This marked the first time in franchise history that a player hit a grand slam in their A’s debut. It’s even more amazing coming back off an injury — when you’re in the middle of injury rehab, all you can hope for is that you get back. The last thing you expect is to return in the fashion Herrmann did. First hit in an Athletics uniform, second grand slam of his career.

With the smell of dingers still fresh in the air, Marcus Semien jumped aboard the grand slam bandwagon. Semien smashed his in the 8th inning of our July 4th victory over the Twins. Talk about fireworks!

Let’s try this again! ... Life is like a box of chocolates ... Okay, so we’re not gonna go back to the whole Forrest Gump comparison again, but Sean Manaea is scheduled to pitch in a rehab assignment Monday for the Stockton Ports. His return was stalled a couple weeks ago due to pain in his side, but he has since recovered and is ready to begin his journey ... again. Second time’s the charm!

The A’s have 50 wins at the All-Star break, and own the eighth-best record in the majors at 50-41. They’re still 1.5 games out of the Wild Card, but they’re on a roll and look like they’re only getting better!

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I’d like to take a moment to mention Angels pitcher, Tyler Skaggs, who passed unexpectedly on July 1st, just a couple weeks before his 28th birthday. (Tyler and I happened to share the exact same birthday — July 13th, 1991!)

Rest in Peace, Tyler!