Godfrey Activated; Figueroa Demoted
Graham Godfrey, as was expected despite repeated “we’ll wait and sees” was recalled today to make the start in lieu of Brandon McCarthy whose shoulder pains sent him to the disabled list. Godfrey struggled his first time through with Oakland, going 0-3 in three starts with a 5.06 ERA and 5.40 FIP backed by 3.9 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9 in his 16 innings of work. Since being sent down to Sacramento he posted a 3-0 record with a 1.21 ERA and 2.76 FIP powered by 6.8 K/9, 1.5 BB/9 and 0.3 HR/9 in 29 2/3 innings. I think and hope that once McCarthy is activated Godfrey can slide into a long man role, but I am not holding my breath that that will occur.
Meanwhile the man being sent back to Sacramento is the correct choice in Pedro Figueroa. Figueroa has appeared in eight games of relief work, throwing nine innings of 2.00 ERA but 6.74 FIP baseball. Figueroa has notched 3.0 K/9, 9.0 BB/9 and 1.0 HR/9 or in other words three strikeouts, nine walks and a home run. His amazing 95.6% strand rate and .217 BABIP have helped him avoid the disaster that is putting that many men on base via the walk. He will not in the interim be missed. The A’s bullpen now goes to just four lefties, though even that seems too high.
Jason Wojciechowski of Beaneball, gave me grief about my obsession with the “too many lefties” refrain (along with a funny, comment that given my constant disappointment with no true long man that Travis Blackley‘s addition left me arguing with myself over the too many lefties and no long man – as Bob Melvin said Blackley would be a long man – note as I expected he hasn’t been) and asked what difference did it make? While I wanted to reply to this a few days ago, I neglected to and this roster move provides me with a natural time to bring up my point. Which is that having a bullpen that is so heavy on lefties just leaves you vulnerable to righty platoon splits. While lefties are quite effective versus right-handed hitters in the American League thus far: .231/.303/.361, they are less so against their right-handed counterparts: .258/.328/.417. Dare I say this is a problem with too much sample size as everything sort of blurs, but the A’s bullpen just leaves very little flexibility and when you have a team of young pieces you don’t want them necessarily getting shelled against righties needlessly. This is far from a heady statistical argument but frankly, platoons due hold some merit and having so few options (especially since Grant Balfour for a long while was a right-handed closer) just limits the opportunity to be successful with platoons. Not that deep, skewer me now Jason!