Cespedes to DL; Donaldson Back and Fuentes to Close
A lot happened in the world of the Oakland A’s Saturday. Prior to the game, Yoenis Cespedes was placed on the 15-day disabled list with the hand strain he has been suffering from in his left hand. The A’s of course hope that he gets recuperates quickly as he figures to be a significant piece of their offense despite his recent struggles. On the year Cespedes has a .245/.319/.434 slash line, and has launched five home runs with a .331 wOBA and 113 wRC+ in 119 plate appearances. After the club initially flirted with bringing back Michael Taylor, they opted instead to recall Josh Donaldson from Sacramento. Given Taylor has played with Oakland as recently as Thursday, the A’s would not be able to backdate the disabled list trip for Cespedes any further than Friday so Donaldson allows the club to backdate the trip to May 7th making Cespedes eligible to return May 22nd.
While many A’s fans may not be happy to see Josh Donaldson return, I most certainly am. It isn’t entirely clear where he will find playing time with the hot hitting Brandon Inge manning third and with Kurt Suzuki and Anthony Recker holding down the backstop, but Donaldson has been on fire in Sacramento where he is hitting .447/.509/.830 with a .545 wOBA and 236 wRC+. While that is surely not sustainable and is Sacramento/PCL aided (he has a .421 BABIP to boot as well), there are nice signs in there too like a positive 1.25 BB/K ratio in his 53 plate appearances. It’ll be interesting to see if he is used much at all during his time with the club as I just don’t see where he immediately fits.
In other roster related news, Bob Melvin after the game announced that the A’s closer will now be Brian Fuentes. I am not enamored of this move, Fuentes has succeeded this year and following the save in tonight’s game has a 3.86 ERA, 2.81 FIP and impressive 7.7 K/9, 1.3 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9 in his fourteen innings, very much so in my mind because he has been used well and in appropriate situations. Hopefully Fuentes can keep up the strong effort in the closing role which he won over from Grant Balfour after Balfour in 16 1/3 innings as closer posted a 4.41 ERA with a 5.09 FIP backed by 6.1 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a high 1.7 HR/9 despite a very low .239 BABIP. Balfour had managed six shutdowns but had four meltdowns as closer. It isn’t clear to me immediately what Balfour’s new role will be though it seemingly will greatly diminish any trade value at the trade deadline, though Fuentes has the potential to increase his in the interim. Ryan Cook has been as shutdown as an eighth-inning man can be, and tonight again flourished in the role extending his scoreless streak to 16 2/3 innings as he earned his ninth hold. Using shutdowns and meltdowns he has a sparkling 7:0 ratio.