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Oddly enough, Doolittle has struggled the most so far.
When you see a bullpen of Jim Johnson, Luke Gregerson, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook and Dan Otero, you salivate. On paper, that has to be one of the best bullpens in Major League Baseball.
Reality is a different story—at least early on.
As the closer, Johnson struggled mightily, at times. In his first two appearances in green and gold, he took a loss and blew a save. He even lost closing duties (if you want to call it that). Then on May 6, with the A's down 4-3, Johnson walked two, made a throwing error and allowed three runs. It hasn't all been bad, but it's to the point where A's fans likely hold their breath when Johnson enters a game.
Gregerson has had a few issues too, but on the whole, not nearly as bad.
In his second appearance, he too blew the save. He has three total blown saves in six chances. His ERA is still a terrific 2.55, however.
Doolittle has become a fan-favorite with A's fans. It would appear as if he may be the team's long-term closer someday. It won't be soon though. Doolittle hasn't been himself so far this season. He's blown one save, has two losses and owns an ERA of 4.60—down from 5.02 after striking out four straight on May 6. Perhaps it was just an off month and he's getting back into form.
Surprisingly, it's been Fernando Abad who has been the best reliever.
In 13.1 innings, he has allowed just two hits and three walks, compared to 15 strikeouts. Via Susan Slusser, manager Bob Melvin called Abad "fearless" but said the reliever will likely remain the lefty specialist needed in tight situations, rather than close.
While they've hit some bumps—and haven't quite been the very best in the game—the A's bullpen still owns the fourth-best ERA in Major League Baseball.
The lesson? Even if you're the best on paper, you still have to go out and perform. And there's plenty of time to keep shooting up the list to finish the season as literally (not figuratively) the best bullpen in the game.