OAKLAND — The Oakland Athletics bullpen put in some extra work on Friday, throwing 7 2/3 innings between the completion of a suspended game and then the regularly scheduled contest against the Detroit Tigers.
On Saturday, they’re getting back one of their most reliable arms.
Yusmeiro Petit has rejoined the team after missing the last few days due to the passing of his father Alberto. Despite efforts to travel to his native Venezuela to be with his family, he ended up staying in California due to what would have been a long and complicated trip.
“At the end of the day he wanted to be here, and we supported whatever he wanted to do. But he wants to be here with his team,” said manager Bob Melvin.
Petit, who last pitched on Wednesday, leads the A’s in appearances and is often trusted with high-leverage situations. The right-hander’s 2.82 ERA is the second-best in the bullpen after closer Liam Hendriks, and his 8.29 strikeout-to-walk ratio is second-best among all qualified major leaguer relievers. He has also converted 25 holds while blowing the lead only twice, for an excellent 93% success rate.
That ability to hold leads is particularly critical for an A’s bullpen that leads the majors with 28 blown saves. Their latest came on Friday, when the Tigers, who have the worst record in the majors, came back from a two-run deficit in the eighth inning and eventually won in the 11th.
“You see it around the league a lot now, where bullpens are getting overused,” said Melvin. “The starter isn’t required to do as much, so I don’t think we’re the Lone Ranger as far as some overuse of the bullpen.”
While Petit is back, another reliever remains out of action as Blake Treinen is still nursing a back issue.
“I think he’s starting to make some strides,” said Melvin of Treinen. “He felt a little bit better yesterday. I don’t think we’re there yet, so it might be a couple more days.”
On the other side of the ball, the A’s lineup is missing a familiar name in Khris Davis. The slugger, who has struggled all year after being a consistent offensive force for three seasons, is 0-for-17 over his last four games and has a .134 batting average over his last 21.
“This is a big guy for us, an important cog in our lineup,” Melvin said. “We’ll continue to support him. He’s going through a tough time, this is the first time he’s gone through a tough period since he’s been here. We’ve got a lefty tomorrow, give him an off day today and get him back out there tomorrow.”
Mark Canha is the designated hitter on Saturday in place of Davis, with Robbie Grossman, Ramon Laureano and Seth Brown playing the outfield.
Chris Bassitt starts on the mound for Oakland, against Jordan Zimmermann for the Tigers. The A’s last faced Zimmermann in 2018, when he put together two solid outings against them, but Oakland won both games.