One would think that the Oakland Athletics’ bullpen would suffer with the departure of their star closer. It seems, however, with the additions of Luke Gregerson and Jim Johnson, that the Athletics are intent on building a bullpen even stronger than last year’s. The new acquisitions will try to fill the gap left by Grant Balfour. And there’s no reason to think they will fail.
While Jim Johnson is the player that A’s fans are more likely to recognize, Luke Gregerson is an equally important addition.
Gregerson, the former setup man for the San Diego Padres, has been a very consistent relief pitcher for multiple years running. Never in his five-year MLB career has he posted an ERA higher than 3.25. Never in the last three seasons has he posted an ERA above 2.75. Last season, Gregerson finished an unfortunate 6-8, while completing the season with a low 2.71 ERA. He was even able to add four saves in the place of Huston Street.
Gregerson joins a bullpen that already has many top end relievers.
Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle have proven that they are a great one-two punch in the bullpen. Dan Otero emerged last season as one of the best long relievers in Major League Baseball. Jim Johnson has proven himself as an effective, if sometimes unreliable, closer. The Athletics would have a very good bullpen without Luke Gregerson. With Gregerson, we may see the best bullpen in all of baseball reside in Oakland.
A team can never have too many good relief pitchers. They are called in to pitch in almost every game, so depth is necessary. Luke Gregerson gives the Athletics incredible depth, with five very solid relievers. Now, the Athletics will be able to keep their bullpen fresh game to game. With three viable setup men, no single reliever will be relied on to pitch too many innings throughout the season.
Toward the end of last season, Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle started to slip a little. In the playoffs, they did not perform to expectations either. Their arms may have run out of gas because of the frequency that they pitched. The addition of Luke Gregerson will keep their arms at full strength going into the final stretch of 2014. A great bullpen at optimum effectiveness is a force to be reckoned with.
Luke Gregerson is the key that will unlock the door to sustained bullpen success.