Skip to content

A’s ride the backs of Balfour, Cook, Doolittle

Oct 3, 2012, 8:03 PM EDT

Grant Balfour Reuters

For the A’s, it’s as easy as B, C, D

In sweeping the Rangers to win the AL West this week, the A’s had Grant Balfour, Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle pitch the final three innings of all three games. They didn’t go in that order — Balfour had the ninth, while the other two alternate in the seventh and eighth — but they are pretty much interchangable. They combined to allow three hits in nine scoreless innings between the three games.

It wasn’t just those three games either. Cook hasn’t allowed a run in 14 appearances. Balfour has gone 10 straight without giving up a run. Doolittle is the ugly duckling of the group, having allowed a run just last week.

But Doolittle is the best story. A supplemental first-round pick as a first baseman five years ago, he just made the move to the mound last year. He entered 2012 with a total of one inning of game experience, that coming in Rookie ball at the end of 2007. After quickly tearing through the minors, he arrived on June 5 and struck out three Rangers in 1 1/3 innings. Five days later, he struck out five Diamondbacks in two innings. He’ll now head into the postseason with a 60/11 K/BB ratio and a 3.04 ERA in 47 1/3 innings.

Cook was the lesser name the A’s picked up from the Diamondbacks along with Jarrod Parker in the Trevor Cahill deal. He got his first taste of the majors last year, giving up six runs in 7 2/3 innings. This year, he started off with 23 straight scoreless innings before finally giving up a run on May 28. He replaced the struggling Balfour in the closer’s role in June and was named Oakland’s lone All-Star a month later. At the end of July, he hit a rough patch of his own, blowing four saves in five opportunities. The A’s gave the closer’s role back to Balfour then, but Cook didn’t sulk. From Aug. 11 on, he allowed runs in just one of  his 23 appearances. He finished the season with a 2.09 ERA.

And then there’s the 35-year-old Balfour, the veteran of Oakland’s staff since Bartolo Colon was suspended. Unlike pretty much every other pitcher the A’s are relying on right now, Balfour has a history of success that extends beyond this year. That said, he was beset by arm problems throughout his 20s and never established himself as a major leaguer until he was 30. He entered this season with 10 career saves. Now he has 34. He finished with a 2.53 ERA in a career-high 74 2/3 innings.

For the A’s manage to go deep into the postseason, one imagines the trio of relievers will have to keep doing what they’re doing. There’s been no let up through some pretty strenuous workloads this far, and with the win today, at least they can all look forward to two days off before they’ll be needed again Saturday.

Latest Posts
  1. Dodgers agree to minor league deal with Freddy Garcia

    Mar 30, 2015, 11:34 PM EDT

    Freddy Garcia AP AP

    Garcia, 38, last pitched in the majors in 2013 as a member of the Orioles and Braves.

  2. Red Sox won’t rush prospect Blake Swihart to the majors despite Christian Vazquez injury

    Mar 30, 2015, 11:25 PM EDT

    Blake Swihart AP AP

    Ryan Hanigan and Sandy Leon figure to handle catching duties for the Red Sox in the early part of the season.

  3. Phil Coke wins spot on Cubs’ Opening Day roster

    Mar 30, 2015, 10:10 PM EDT

    phil coke getty Getty Images

    This day has mostly been about who will not be on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, but it was announced this evening that reliever Phil Coke has earned a spot on the team.

  4. Cardinals officially name Carlos Martinez as fifth starter

    Mar 30, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Carlos Martinez AP AP

    In a decision that was all but inevitable after news of Jaime Garcia’s renewed shoulder issues, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny confirmed today that right-hander Carlos Martinez has won the fifth spot in the starting rotation.

  5. Trevor Cahill, Chase Anderson win rotation spots with D-Backs; Daniel Hudson to bullpen

    Mar 30, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT

    diamondbacks logo alternate

    The Diamondbacks will go into the season with a starting rotation of Josh Collmenter, Jeremy Hellickson, Rubby De La Rosa, Trevor Cahill, and Chase Anderson.

  6. Report: The Pirates and Gregory Polanco have reopened extension talks

    Mar 30, 2015, 7:09 PM EDT

    Gregory Polanco AP

    The two sides first discussed the possibility prior to Polanco’s promotion to the majors last year.

  7. Anthony Rendon sees Dr. James Andrews for second opinion on ailing knee

    Mar 30, 2015, 6:19 PM EDT

    at Space Coast Stadium on March 9, 2015 in Viera, Florida. Getty Images

    Rendon suffered what was termed as a minor MCL sprain in his left knee on March 9 and continues to feel discomfort.

  8. UPDATE: Drew Storen leaves game with blister on foot

    Mar 30, 2015, 6:02 PM EDT

    Drew Storen Getty Images

    That Nationals don’t need another injury. But they may have one.

  9. The MLBPA releases a statement on Kris Bryant, mentions possible litigation

    Mar 30, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

    Tony Clark AP

    I’d still be surprised if they went down that road — and I think it’s a bad road to go down — but Tony Clark is leaving the option on the table.

  10. Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy will begin the season on the disabled list

    Mar 30, 2015, 5:10 PM EDT

    St. Louis Cardinals v Baltimore Orioles Getty Images

    Everth Cabrera, who was the Padres’ starting shortstop for most of the past three seasons, looks likely to fill in for Hardy.

  11. Indians release left-hander Scott Downs

    Mar 30, 2015, 4:47 PM EDT

    Scott Downs Getty Getty Images

    Downs signed a minor-league deal in mid-December.

  12. In the wake of the Kris Bryant demotion, Scott Boras’ vocabulary has gone to 11

    Mar 30, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT

    Spinal Tap But it goes to eleven

    The Cubs are playing ersatz baseball, you see. And this is the, um, apogee of something.

  13. White Sox send top prospect Carlos Rodon to Triple-A

    Mar 30, 2015, 3:36 PM EDT

    carlos rodon ap AP

    Rodon ranked as a consensus top-20 prospect and has top-of-the-rotation upside, so expect to see him in Chicago by the All-Star break.

  14. Kevin Correia released by the Mariners

    Mar 30, 2015, 2:33 PM EDT

    Kevin Correia AP

    He just signed on March 9, but after three awful appearances, the M’s have cut bait.

  15. Cardinals shut down Jaime Garcia with more shoulder problems

    Mar 30, 2015, 1:49 PM EDT

    jaime garcia getty Getty Images

    Carlos Martinez time in the Cardinals’ rotation?

  16. Mets find a lefty, acquire reliever Alex Torres from Padres

    Mar 30, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT

    San Diego Padres v San Francisco Giants Getty Images

    He posted a 3.33 ERA in 70 appearances for the Padres in a limited role, logging a total of just 54 innings with a 51/33 K/BB ratio.

  17. The Cubs assign Kris Bryant and Addison Russell to the minors, option Javier Baez as well

    Mar 30, 2015, 1:07 PM EDT

    Kris Bryant Getty Images

    Service time manipulation, the depth chart and hacktastic tendencies mean that the future is not quite here for three of the Cubs’ top prospects.

  18. Reds release left-hander Paul Maholm

    Mar 30, 2015, 12:46 PM EDT

    paul maholm getty Getty Images

    Maholm has indicated that he wants to continue starting, which likely sealed his fate in Cincinnati and limits his options going forward.

  19. It’s OK for ballplayers to be friendly with one another. Really.

    Mar 30, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.11.07 PM AP

    Baseball technically has a rule against “fraternization.” It’s a dumb rule.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Fernandez (4560)
  2. C. Rodon (4056)
  3. Y. Tomas (3871)
  4. K. Bryant (3835)
  5. S. Doolittle (3829)
  1. A. Cobb (3596)
  2. T. Walker (3569)
  3. K. Jansen (3563)
  4. A. Rendon (3505)
  5. K. Uehara (3482)