After riding a mix of first-year starters, Oakland used rookie reliever Ryan Cook in the late innings. Somehow, these youngsters tallied the sixth best ERA (3.48) in baseball.
Even though Cook lost a handle on the closer’s job, he still boasted a 2.09 ERA and 0.94 WHIP and represented the A’s in the All-Star Game during his inaugural season. Power arms in the bullpen are usually a good thing, so why is Cook heading for a sophomore slump after fanning 80 batters in 73.1 innings?
In those 73.1 innings, Cook only surrendered 42 hits. Maybe he’s unhittable, or maybe a .220 BABIP steered him through a fortunate season where he received a helping hand from Lady Luck.
Although Cook earned an All-Star bid with his first-half performance, he actually pitched better in the second portion of the season. Cook walked 21 batters in 38.1 innings before the All-Star break but only six in the next 35 innings.
Rookie relievers are difficult to evaluate on a small sample size of work, but Cook registered a 3.1 walk rate in 368.2 career minor-league innings pitched. So perhaps the clashing two splits averaged out to a reasonable mark.
It’d be one thing to tout Cook as a worthy option if he held a tight grip on the closer’s role, but don’t bet on Cook seizing the job back. Fellow freshman Sean Doolittle, who posted a 2.08 FIP and 11.41 K/9 ratio in 2012, has a better chance of snatching the closing gig next season.