With a 3.52 ERA, the Athletics bullpen ranks fifth in the American League. And Oakland has only gotten stingier this season after the seventh when manager Bob Melvin has been able to deploy his one-two knockout combination of Lou Trivino and Blake Treinen.
Behind Trivino and Treinen, the A’s are a league-best 38-0 when leading after the seventh — effectively shortening the nine-inning game to seven innings.
On Saturday, Oakland’s TNT was made all the more potent — their games shortened even further — when the A’s announced the acquisition of former Mets closer Jeurys Familia, the mostly highly sought after trade-market reliever since Kelvin Herrera moved from Kansas City to Washington, D.C.
Manager Bob Melvin said before Saturday’s game:
“For already having a good bullpen, to be able to bring in an arm like this, it’s pretty significant. … After the fifth or sixth inning, we can pull the plug (on opposing offenses) and run a bunch of closers out there.”
Clearly, the A’s have every treason to be comfortable with breakout rookie set-up man Trivino (7-1, 1.22 ERA, 0.947 WHIP), who is currently riding a 13-1/3-inning scoreless streak, staying in the eighth. And Treinen (24 saves, 0.94 ERA, 0.979 WHIP), an All-Star closer, is locked into the ninth, even after Familia lands in Oakland — which the team expects will be Sunday in time for the finale of the Battle of the Bay series.
But adding Familia (17 saves, 2.88 ERA, 1.230 WHIP) gives Melvin depth that few teams can boast — if any.
Having Familia, a 28-year-old seven-year veteran and 2016 All-Star, also gives Melvin the option to limit his use of Trivino, who at 49-2/3 innings between Triple-A Nashville and Oakland is quickly approaching career high as a reliever for a season (68-1/3). It also gives the skipper a bit more freedom to give Treinen, currently at 48 innings of work himself, more off-days.
As the A’s continue their hunt for a first postseason berth in four years — at first pitch Saturday they were four games behind the Mariners for the second AL Wild Card spot — depth will be increasingly important. Adding a reliever who owns five career postseason saves and a 2.30 ERA in 13 playoff games, along with 123 regular season saves including an MLB-leading 51 in 2016, is an eagle feather in the cap of the A’s front office.
Adding that feather to an already impressive headdress affirms this young A’s club as a legitimate contender now, perhaps a year or two before expected.
While Toffey, 23, has never played above Single-A (.244/.357/.384 slash with Advanced-A Stockton this season) Wahl (11 saves, 2.27 ERA with Triple-A Nashville) made his first big league appearance with the A’s last year, allowing four earned runs and striking out eight in 7-2/3 innings.