Hendriks, who fired two clean innings during which he recorded two strikeouts in a loss to the Indians on Sunday, now sports a 1.54 ERA and 1.11 WHIP across 23.1 innings on the season. The veteran reliever was also effective as an opener in Saturday's win, allowing a hit and recording a strikeout over a scoreless first inning. Hendriks has rattled off six straight scoreless appearances, and he's slightly bumped up his fastball's average velocity over last season (94.7 mph, compared to 94.3 mph) while posting a career-high strand rate (88.0 percent). While his first month-plus has been highly encouraging, Hendriks' career body of work -- he's only posted a sub-4.00 ERA twice -- lends credence to the notion a regression to some degree could be looming.
Hendriks will work as an opener in Saturday's game against the Indians. Aaron Brooks was set to start Saturday and will still likely be counted on to eat the most innings for the A's, but Hendriks will be on the mound when the game gets underway. Hendriks owns a 1.77 ERA and 22:9 K:BB in 20.1 innings over 16 appearances out of the bullpen this season.
Hendriks was credited with his second spring victory in an exhibition win over the Giants on Monday, allowing a hit, a walk and a wild pitch over an inning while recording a strikeout. Hendriks led off a nine-pitcher parade for the Athletics during the latest installment of the Bay Bridge series between the teams. The veteran right-hander is projected for a middle-relief role in 2019 after posting a 4.13 ERA and 1.46 WHIP across 25 appearances (eight starts) last season.
Hendriks said Sunday that he lost around 20 pounds during the offseason and feels good heading into spring training, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports. Hendriks relayed that he followed a ketogenic diet over the winter, perhaps with the hope of improving his conditioning in anticipation of more usage this season. The lefty covered only 49.1 innings in 48 appearances between the Athletics and Triple-A Nashville in 2018 but looks primed for added responsibilities after emerging as one of manager Bob Melvin's preferred opening pitchers in games. When used in those scenarios in the second half of last season, Hendriks typically worked an inning or less before Melvin turned the game over to the bullpen once a lefty hitter stepped in for the opposition.
Hendriks signed a one-year, $2.15 million fully guaranteed deal with Oakland on Friday, avoiding arbitration, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports. Hendriks will be arbitration eligible for one more season before hitting the free-agent market. The 29-year-old appeared in 25 games and made eight "starts" -- which doesn't include taking the mound for the AL Wild Card Game in the Bronx -- this past year, logging a 4.13 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 8.2 K/9 across 24 innings. He finished the regular season strong and will be a vital cog in the Athletics' bullpen in 2019.