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
|2||1986||Mark Eichhorn||Blue Jays||157||4.9|
|11||1991||Duane Ward||Blue Jays||107.1||4.1|
|13||1975||Rich Gossage||White Sox||141.2||4|
|19||1985||Bob James||White Sox||110||3.6|
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
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.
How do you feel about the new-look bullpen?
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