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Liam Hendriks Closes Out All-Time Great Season

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Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Think of the greatest relief pitchers of the past decade. Names like Mariano Rivera, Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen, and Aroldis Chapman might surface. None of those pitchers, however, had a season in the past decade as good as the one Liam Hendriks is currently having.

In fact, not many pitchers can say they ever had a season as good as the one Hendriks is having. For a pitcher who was all-but deemed worthless last summer simply earning a chance to close out games and make the all-star team, as he did this year, would be redemption enough. Hendriks, however, is having an all-time great season of relief pitching. Top-20 in fact.

Top-20 Modern Relief Pitcher Seasons

# Season Name Team IP WAR
# Season Name Team IP WAR
1 1977 Bruce Sutter Cubs 107.1 5.2
2 1986 Mark Eichhorn Blue Jays 157 4.9
3 1979 Bruce Sutter Cubs 101.1 4.8
4 1979 Jim Kern Rangers 143 4.7
5 2003 Eric Gagne Dodgers 82.1 4.7
6 1974 Mike Marshall Dodgers 208.1 4.4
7 1990 Rob Dibble Reds 98 4.3
8 1996 Mariano Rivera Yankees 107.2 4.3
9 1977 Rich Gossage Pirates 133 4.2
10 1976 Rollie Fingers Athletics 134.2 4.1
11 1991 Duane Ward Blue Jays 107.1 4.1
12 1970 Tom Hall Twins 155.1 4.1
13 1975 Rich Gossage White Sox 141.2 4
14 2004 Brad Lidge Astros 94.2 3.7
15 1989 Rob Dibble Reds 99 3.7
16 2004 Francisco Rodriguez Angels 84 3.7
17 1988 Doug Jones Indians 83.1 3.7
18 2002 Eric Gagne Dodgers 82.1 3.6
19 1985 Bob James White Sox 110 3.6
20 2019 Liam Hendriks Athletics 82.1 3.6
Fangraphs.com

In a lost season that fact might be the only storyline worth following. 2019 is not a lost year and Hendriks’ sheer dominance is a big reason why. Last season the A’s boasted a top-10 bullpen thanks mostly to two pitchers who won’t pitch again this season and have mostly been a drag on the Oakland relief corps.: Blake Treinen and Lou Trivino. So one would expect the 2019 bullpen to be a weakness. Well, it hasn’t. No matter how you feel about a given pitcher or bullpen usage the numbers don’t lie - the Oakland Athletics have an elite bullpen once again.

Anchored this time by Liam Hendriks with Yusmeiro Petit not far behind, the rest of the group is shaping up to be a real weapon should a postseason series present itself. With fewer innings pitched by Blake Treinen and Lou Trivino and more innings pitched by Chris Bassitt, AJ Puk, and Jesus Luzardo I’m no longer as worried about how this team will get from the 5th or 6th inning all the way to the 9th in a 5 or 7 game series.

Oakland A’s September Bullpen

# Name IP K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP xFIP WAR
# Name IP K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP xFIP WAR
3 Joakim Soria 6.2 10.8 1.4 0.00 1.72 3.51 0.3
1 Yusmeiro Petit 10.1 13.1 2.6 1.74 2.45 3.69 0.3
2 Liam Hendriks 12.2 14.9 1.4 2.13 3.46 2.58 0.3
4 A.J. Puk 8.0 9.0 1.1 3.38 3.22 3.83 0.2
6 Chris Bassitt 4.0 15.8 0.0 0.00 0.47 1.47 0.1
8 J.B. Wendelken 6.2 5.4 2.7 0.00 3.82 5.91 0.1
7 Jesus Luzardo 8.0 11.3 3.4 2.25 3.47 3.59 0.1
9 Lou Trivino 3.0 9.0 6.0 6.00 3.22 3.88 0.1
5 Jake Diekman 8.0 11.3 6.8 6.75 3.72 4.72 0.1
11 Ryan Buchter 6.2 12.2 4.1 2.70 5.77 4.26 -0.1
10 Daniel Mengden 4.0 2.3 4.5 4.50 7.47 6.21 -0.1
12 Paul Blackburn 8.0 4.5 1.1 9.00 5.85 4.09 -0.1
13 Blake Treinen 2.2 20.3 16.9 10.13 9.22 6.58 -0.1
Fangraphs.com

With four games left to close out a postseason berth having a strong bullpen provides comfort. Having an all-time great reliever leading that group instills confidence.

Poll

How do you feel about the new-look bullpen?

This poll is closed

  • 78%
    More Confident
    (302 votes)
  • 4%
    Less Confident
    (17 votes)
  • 17%
    About the Same.
    (67 votes)
386 votes total Vote Now