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Elephant Rumblings: A’s shake up struggling bullpen

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Cincinnati Reds v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Happy Friday, Athletics Nation!

I tuned into Wednesday night’s game in the bottom of the seventh, and I hate to be negative, but I had little faith that the A’s would be able to hang on for the win. What ensued was a painful exhibition of one seriously troubled bullpen. Zach Jackson lost an epic battle with AJ Pollock to blow the save in the ninth, and then the Mariners buried the A’s in the tenth, a hapless and out of control Adam Oller hung out to dry in front of a crowd too small to drown out a lone heckler that was as audible as the broadcast team. It was truly one of the most brutally dispiriting moments I’ve witnessed in televised sports.

Per Matt Kawahara at the San Francisco Chronicle, Jackson’s blown save marked the fourth straight game in which the A’s bullpen failed to capitalize on a save opportunity. The A’s front office went into damage control the next day with a significant reshuffling of the bullpen.

Three relievers were demoted: Jeurys Familia and Domingo Acevedo were designated for assignment, while Oller was optioned to Triple-A. Familia, a once-solid closer for the Mets, seemed like a questionable offseason pickup given that he hasn’t pitched well since 2018. But Acevedo getting DFA’d is a bit more surprising and disappointing a development, as he was an anchor for the A’s bullpen last season. His time in Oakland may be over if he winds up being traded or claimed off waivers.

Three righties were called up as reinforcements: Rico Garcia, Spencer Patton, and Austin Pruitt. We saw a good deal of Pruitt with the A’s in 2022; he went 55⅓ innings with the A’s, posting an ERA+ of 88 and an FIP of 4.87. He’s fared well in Triple-A this season, posting a 2.30 ERA in 10 appearances. He pitched an inning in relief of Drew Rucinski yesterday and was charged with no runs despite walking two. Patton and Garcia are less familiar faces, but they both pitched scoreless innings Thursday, with only Garcia allowing one baserunner between them.

That’s not a bad start for this new trio of relief arms. Hopefully they will help the beleaguered A’s bullpen improve—the bar is set low, as the Oakland bullpen entered yesterday’s game with a league-worst 7.07 ERA. Something has got to give, folks.

A’s Coverage:

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Roster moves.

May on pause.

Silver linings (?)

A’s getting sympathy and respect for the great 70s dynasty in this NBA broadcast.