Jeff Samardzija Shines in Athletics Debut

On Sunday afternoon, one of the newest Oakland Athletic pitchers showed fans why they traded for him. Jeff Samardzija held the Toronto Blue Jays to 1 run on just 4 hits over 7 innings in his Oakland Athletics debut.

Samardzija gave up 2 hits in the first inning and had runners on 1st and 3rd with only 1 out. He then got Jose Bautista on a one strike pitch to ground into an inning ending double play. Jeff would go on to retire 13 of the next 14 batters giving up a lone walk in the 3rd inning. Samardzija would only allow two more hits, both coming the 6th inning.

The home crowd of 22,897 saw the Athletics secure their first 4 game sweep of the Blue Jays since 1981. Eric O’Flaherty pitched a perfect 8th inning. Sean Doolittle earned his 13th saves after surrendering a lead off home run to Steve Tolleson in the top of the 9th.

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New in Oakland, Part 1: Pitchers

This is the first installment of a 3 part series introducing the newest members of the Oakland Athletics. These players were either signed as a free agent or traded for during the off season.  This first installment will introduce the new pitchers on Oakland’s 40-man roster.  These players may or may not make the opening day lineup, but figure prominently in Oakland’s future.

Scott Kazmir, starting pitcher – Scott was signed as a free agent to a 2 year contract in December. The 30 year old missed the entire 2012 season and made a comeback with the Cleveland Indians last year. In 2013 he went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA, 162 strikeouts and 1.32 WHIP in 29 games.  Scott figures to be the Athletics’ No. 2 started behind Jarrod Parker.

Jim Johnson, closer – Jim was acquired by the Athletics in exchange for the struggling Jemile Weeks and catcher David Freitas. Jim was a league leader in saves last year as he earned 50 in 59 opportunities. Jim has a 2.94 ERA with a 1.29 WHIP. Jim will take over the closer role previously occupied by Grant Balfour.

Eric O’Flaherty, relief pitcher – Eric was signed as a free agent to a 2 year contract in January. You can see our post about it here: A’s sign O’Flaherty. While Eric is recovering from Tommy John surgery and will not be available until mid-season, Eric was an anchor of the bullpen for the Atlanta Braves over the past 5 years. In his MLB career Eric is 20-9 with a 2.85 ERA, 245 strikeouts in 343 games with the Braves and the Seattle Mariners.

Fernando Abad, relief pitcher – Fernando was dealt by the Washington Nationals to the Athletics for Minor League outfielder John Wooten. In 2013 Fernando was 0-3 with a 3.35 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 39 relief appearances

Luke Gregerson, relief pitcher – Luke was dealt to the Athletics by the San Diego Padres for outfielder Seth Smith. In 2013 Luke was a workhorse on the Padres staff compiling a 6-8 record with a 2.71 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP in 73 relief appearances.

Josh Lindblom, relief pitcher – Josh was a part of the trade that brought Chris Gentry from the Texas Rangers to the Athletics for Michael Choice and Chris Bostick. It is likely that Josh will start the season with the Sacramento River Cats, but he could figure prominently in the bullpen later in the season. In limited duty with the Rangers Josh went 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA in 8 games, 5 of which were starts.

Drew Pomeranz, starting pitcher – Drew was acquired by the Athletics along with minor leaguer Chris Jensen in the trade that sent Brett Anderson to the Colorado Rockies. Drew will begin the year with the Sacramento River Cats and figures to be a starter with the Athletics some time in the next year or two. Drew pitched in 8 games, 4 starts, last season for the Rockies and compiled an 0-4 record, 6.23 ERA in 21.2 innings.

The Athletics sign LHP Eric O’Flaherty

On Wednesday, January 22, 2014 the Oakland Athletics signed left-handed reliever Eric O’Flaherty to a 2 year contract.  The deal is reportedly worth $7 million and with performance bonus could get as high as $10 million.  O’Flaherty shores up an already outstanding bullpen. Even though he will not be ready for action until mid-season O’Flaherty will be the second LHP in  the bullpen, along with Sean Doolittle. He will replace Jerry Blevins, who was traded to the Washington Nationals in early-December for outfield prospect Billy Burns.

O’Flaherty is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery. Prior to the injury he complied a 1.45 ERA in 161 appearances for the Atlanta Braves. This is the lowest mark among Major League relievers with a minimum 125 IP. To make for O’Flaherty on the 40 man roster the Athletics designated OF Corey Brown for assignment.