The Athletics are shaking up their bullpen, designating right-handers Jeurys Familia and Domingo Acevedo for assignment, per a team announcement. Righty Adam Oller was also optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas. In a set of corresponding moves, righties Spencer Patton, Austin Pruitt and Rico Garcia have all had their contracts selected from Triple-A.
Familia, 33, returned to the A’s for a second stint late in spring training, after the D-backs cut him loose late in spring training. The former Mets closer had enjoyed a strong showing in camp with Arizona and landed a big league deal with Oakland, but things haven’t gone well in his return to the Coliseum. Through 12 2/3 innings, Familia has been tagged for a 6.39 ERA, due in no small part to a sky-high 20.3% walk rate.
It’s been a tough two years for Familia, who was sharp with the Mets from 2020-21 but was roughed up for a 6.09 ERA in 44 1/3 frames between the Phillies and Red Sox in 2022. Familia’s fastball, which once averaged better than 97 mph, sat at what was then a career-low 95.6 mph between those two teams last year. This season, he’s averaged 94.8 mph on the pitch.
As for the 29-year-old Acevedo, his bottom-line run prevention numbers are even more jarring. In 9 1/3 innings out of the bullpen, he’s been clobbered for 11 runs on 16 hits (two homers), a pair of walks and a hit batter with seven punchouts. The resulting 10.61 ERA is more than triple the strong 3.33 mark he posted in 67 2/3 innings for the A’s during the 2022 season.
Acevedo’s velocity hasn’t changed — his 93.2 mph average heater is an exact match with his 2022 velocity — nor has he made any radical alterations to his pitch selection/usage. However, he’s seen his swinging-strike rate plummet from 15.6% to 8.8%, while his opponents’ chase rate has fallen from 35.6% to 29%. While he’s undoubtedly had some poor fortune in terms of batted balls (.400 BABIP), Acevedo also just isn’t missing many bats and is getting chases off the plate at a below-average rate after excelling in both those areas a year ago.
Pruitt returns to the A’s for a second season after spending the bulk of the 2022 campaign in their bullpen and pitching to a 4.23 ERA in 55 1/3 innings. The A’s removed him from the 40-man roster but re-signed him to a minor league deal this past offseason, and he’s begun the year with a 2.30 ERA, 25.8% strikeout rate and 8.1% walk rate in 15 2/3 innings of Triple-A ball. Pruitt has only fanned 17.4% of his Major League opponents, so he’s not likely to keep missing bats at this level, but he also boasts a very strong 5.3% walk rate in his MLB career.
The 35-year-old Patton has had the most MLB experience in recent seasons. Patton, who starred for NPB’s Yokohama DeNA BayStars for several years before returning to MLB with the Rangers in 2021, pitched to a 3.83 ERA in 49 1/3 innings with Texas in 2021-22. He had a very strong ’21 season, fanning 27.9% of his opponents against an 8.7% walk rate, but Patton’s velocity dipped by more than a mile per hour in 2022 as his walk and strikeout rates spiked in the wrong directions. Through 8 1/3 innings with Las Vegas this season, he’s allowed four runs on 11 hits and four walks with 10 strikeouts.
Garcia, 29, has appeared in three big league seasons, splitting a total of 24 innings between the Rockies, Giants and Orioles. He has a grisly 6.38 ERA in that time and has issued more walks than strikeouts. However, he’s sitting on a 2.03 ERA in 13 1/3 innings so far in Las Vegas, with a hefty 32.8% strikeout rate and 18% swinging-strike rate against a more troublesome 15.5% walk rate.