4/23/2014 4:20 P.M. ET
Melvin sticking with closer-by-committee
By Alex Espinoza / Special to MLB.com
OAKLAND -- Despite a relief corps that has struggled to maintain late leads in recent games and a $10 million man in the bullpen, A's manager Bob Melvin will continue to use a closer-by-committee in save situations.
"Look, we'll do the best we can with the matchups we can to finish off the game," Melvin said. "That's kind of where we are and where we remain at this point."
In the past two games, trusted lefty Sean Doolittle and reliable righty Luke Gregerson have been charged with losses after giving up runs in the eighth inning or later. Even though the team's bullpen ranks among the league's best in ERA (2.55) and key opposition batting stats, Oakland is tied with Pittsburgh with a Major League-worst six blown saves through 20 games.
The A's signed Jim Johnson to a one-year, $10 million contract this past offseason in hopes that he could hold down the closer role for departed fan favorite Grant Balfour. But since giving up a pair of late runs on April 9 in Minnesota, Johnson has been moved to setup duty, where he has tossed 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
In the two weeks since then, Gregerson has converted three of five save opportunities, while Doolittle has converted one of his two chances. In all, they've combined to to throw 7 2/3 innings, allowing five earned runs on 11 hits and no walks with six strikeouts.
While Johnson looks like he might have recaptured the form that led to 101 saves the past two seasons, it sounds like Melvin will stay with the status quo for now.
"I try to be as communicative as I can all the time," Melvin said. "They know that it's a little different right now than when we started the season."
Abad off to strong start in Oakland bullpen
OAKLAND -- Of all the talented arms in Oakland's bullpen, none has gotten off to a better start that Fernando Abad.
The hard-throwing lefty had made nine scoreless appearances entering Wednesday, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out 10 across nine innings of work. The 28-year-old lefty was one of just seven pitchers in the Majors with at least nine innings pitched and no runs allowed.
With Sean Doolittle unavailable on Tuesday, Abad stepped in with one out in the eighth inning and retired Prince Fielder and Luis Sardinas in order.
"His stuff's good enough to get through some righties, too," manager Bob Melvin said. "It's kind of a luxury to have when Doolittle's down for a day, to be able to have an Abad that's going to pitch either the seventh or eighth inning for you."
Oakland acquired Abad in November in a low-profile swap with Washington for Minor League infielder John Wooten. Abad has shown great command of his heavy fastball while mixing it up with an effective curveball and changeup.
When asked if Abad would be considered for a potential save situation if the matchup is right, Melvin wouldn't directly address the southpaw, saying he will evaluate the closer situation on a game-by-game basis.
• Leadoff man and starting center fielder Coco Crisp received a scheduled day off Wednesday as he tries to rest the sore ribs he hurt on Monday while diving for a fly ball.
"He actually feels a little better today than I originally thought," Melvin said. "He was a little sore yesterday, but he was able to play. With the quick turnover, it's probably prudent to give him all the way until tomorrow, at least to start. Doesn't mean he's not an in-game option at some point."
• Even though Brandon Moss has a driven in a team-high 16 runs this season, he was on the bench against lefty Martin Perez on Wednesday, as Daric Barton made his 10th start of the year.
"We here try to get everybody involved," Melvin said. "You don't want a particular guy sitting too long, yet with two pitchers with the ERAs that they have, defense could be important today. … We always have Moss in a pinch-hit situation, a potential leverage situation. It's quite a luxury to have coming off the bench."
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.