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2023 Athletics Season in Review: Devin Sweet

I’m sweet on Sweet’s chances to be the A’s next breakout reliever.

Oakland Athletics v Texas Rangers Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images

The Oakland Athletics made a ton of waiver claims last year to find someone (anyone!) who could give them a solid inning or two out of the bullpen. Devin Sweet, though inconsistent in his first major league experience, may end up being the best of them.

How Acquired?

After four minor league seasons with the Seattle Mariners, who signed him in 2018 as an undrafted free agent, the team finally cut bait with him in September 2023 to open up a 40-man roster spot for Dominic Leone. That was in spite of a breakout season he was having in which he put up a 1.54 ERA in 35 innings at AA and a 2.57 ERA in 7 innings at AAA. The move opened the door for the A’s to claim and add him to the bullpen mix, which was in dire need of anyone who can throw a scoreless inning.

What were the expectations?

With the A’s bullpen constantly in flux throughout 2023, anything Sweet could give would likely be a step up from what the team was getting. Seeing his dominant minor league numbers, the team hoped he could just be at least half as good as that in the majors and do a small part in saving its overtaxed bullpen from self-destruction.

2023 Results

After just one inning at AAA after joining the organization, he got his callup to Oakland very quickly and, for his first couple of outings, looked the part. In his A’s debut, he threw 2 shutdown innings with 2 strikeouts against the eventual World Series Champions, the Texas Rangers. He followed that up with a scoreless inning against the next-best team in the AL, the Houston Astros. Up to this point, it was fair to wonder whether the A’s uncovered a steal. Unfortunately, Sweet went on to give up 8 runs over his next 3 23 innings and got sent back to the minors before the end of the season.

What went right? What went wrong?

It wasn’t necessarily surprising that Sweet would struggle in his first taste of the majors. The fact that he had those first two successful outings is a solid foundation to build upon. His minor league numbers show he has the talent and ability to execute; he’ll just need to figure out how to do it consistently in order to solidify his role and make his way up the bullpen hierarchy.

2024 Outlook

The A’s bullpen situation heading into next year looks even bleaker than last year’s, so Sweet should have ample opportunity to get some innings and prove his worth. Oakland’s desperately in need of someone like him to handle the 6th or 7th innings of winnable games (if there’ll be any). If he can build off his 2023 minor league breakout, we should see him blossom into a legitimate major league reliever in 2024.