More shoulder issues limited Sean Doolittle's season -- sound familiar? He hasn't topped 40 innings in the last two years, and his rust probably contributed to him allowing a career-worst 1.38 home runs per nine innings. Of course, Doolittle showed a lot of positives. Doolittle continued whiffing batters to boost his career K/9 to 10.4, and his walk rate finished at 2.1 or lower for the fourth time in five years. He's had at least one save in every season, which makes him one of the better speculative relievers after all closers are off the board. The situation is no different this year with the A's, who has Ryan Madson and an erratic cast of characters behind him, none of whom would stand in the way of a healthy Doolittle. He owns the best skills in this bullpen, and if Doolittle stays healthy, he could match or top the 22 saves he collected in 2014.
Doolittle, who battled shoulder problems in each of the last two seasons and thus is being brought along slowly, will soon begin throwing off a mound, Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area reports. Doolittle was limited to 52.2 innings over the 2014-15 seasons due to his injuries, amassing three wins, 11 holds and eight saves over that span. That followed a 22-save effort in 2014, a level of performance that the 30-year-old southpaw hopes to attain or exceed in the coming season. It remains to be seen if Doolittle will get the opportunity to close out games, though, as manager Bob Melvin recently commented that he remains undecided about whether he'll opt to deploy just one pitcher in that role. However, Doolittle figures to thrive as a setup man if called upon, as he remains a highly effective strikeout specialist (10.38 K/9 in 2016) with solid control (1.85 BB/9) and a fastball in the mid-90s.
Doolittle (shoulder) was activated off the 15-day disabled list Friday, Joe Stiglich of CSN California reports. The A's top reliever has been embattled by injuries for much of the past two years, having made just 47 appearances since the start of the 2015 campaign. He's been effective when healthy this year, notching a 2.93 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP across 35 appearances. Ryan Madson has earned the closer's role for the rest of the season in all likelihood, so expect Doolittle to serve in a setup role the rest of the way.
Doolittle (shoulder) will pitch one last rehab game Tuesday at Triple-A Nashville before being activated by the Athletics on Friday, John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports. Conveniently, this will allow the Athletics to wait for roster expansion before Doolittle makes his return to the big leagues. Expect him to pitch in a setup role down the stretch, but if he looks like his old self, Doolittle could easily put himself in the conversation for the closer's role in 2017.
Doolittle (shoulder) could rejoin the Athletics for their homestand that begins Friday against the Red Sox, MLB.com's Jane Lee reports. Doolittle indicated he "felt good" Saturday in what marked his fifth rehab appearance for Triple-A Nashville, and with rosters set to expand Sept. 1, it looks like the reliever is on track to rejoin the big club in short order. Though the Athletics have a fairly unstable closing situation, it doesn't seem likely that Doolittle will be a candidate to challenge for ninth-inning duties right away, given that shoulder soreness has kept him on the DL since late June.
Doolittle (shoulder) will remain with Triple-A Nashville for another rehab outing, MLB.com's Jane Lee reports. Doolittle was originally supposed to rejoin the A's this week, but according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, he's not quite comfortable with the way the ball is coming out of his hand. The plan is now for Doolittle to rest a day or two before taking the hill once again in the minors. If he's able to tune up those mechanics, he should be able to join the team at some point during an upcoming six-game road trip.