The Oakland A's may have traded away two of the three left-handers they carried in their playoff bullpen last season (Jerry Blevins and Brett Anderson), but they still have plenty of options to choose from for their bullpen if they want to carry another left-hander besides Sean Doolittle this season.
Since the start of the off-season, the A's have added three left-handers capable of coming out of their bullpen: Fernando Abad, Eric O'Flaherty and Drew Pomeranz. On Monday, the A's added a fourth - left-hander Joe Savery, a former first-round pick. Savery was claimed off of waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies. He had been designated for assignment by the Phillies to make room for free agent signee A.J. Burnett.
Although both O'Flaherty and Pomeranz could factor in the A's plans in 2014, the spring battle to be the second left-hander in the A's bullpen is now more likely to be between Abad and Savery. O'Flaherty is coming off of Tommy John surgery and won't be available to pitch for the A's until mid-season (in fact, he was placed on the 60-day DL to make room for Savery on the 40-man roster). In addition, the A's may prefer to keep Pomeranz stretched out as a starter in Triple-A rather than stashed away in the middle of their bullpen.
The addition of Savery gives the A's some added flexibility. Abad, who the A's acquired from Washington this off-season, is out of options, meaning the A's will need to keep him on the 25-man roster all season or risk exposing him to waivers. Savery has one more option year remaining, so the A's will be able to send him to Triple-A at any point this season if they need a roster spot for another player.
Savery was the 19th overall pick in 2007 out of Rice University, where he had starred as a pitcher and as a hitter. He progressed slowly through the Phillies system, and in 2011, the Phillies tried Savery as a first-baseman. Midway through that season, he switched back to the mound. After returning to pitching full-time, Savery showed significant improvement. He made his major-league debut in September 2011 and appeared with the Phillies for parts of 2012 and 2013. In 47.2 career innings in the big leagues, Savery has a 4.15 ERA and a 32:19 K:BB.
Since turning pro, Savery's development as a pitcher has been held back by shaky command. That command has improved since his return to pitching in 2011, but he will need to do better than posting a 4.95 BB/9 like he did out of the Phillies' bullpen last season (he had a 3.15 ERA and a 14:11 K:BB in 20 innings with the Phillies). Savery isn't an over-powering pitcher, but his fastball generally sat in the 90-93 MPH range last season. He also features a slider and a change-up.
It is an admittedly small sample size, but Savery has had some interesting reverse splits during his time in the big leagues. Left-handers have hit .265/.304/.429 against him, while right-handers have managed only a .209/.315/.363 line. His splits were more what one would expect over the past three years in the minor leagues -- righties had a .249/.312/.335 line, while lefties hit .229/.261/.294.
Savery turned 28 in November.