Diekman is likely to remain in his customary setup role during the prolonged absence of closer Trevor Rosenthal following surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, Martin Gallegos of MLB.com reports. "It's not ideal to use Jake in the ninth inning," manager Bob Melvin said. "A lot of times, his spot comes up before that in the eighth." Diekman proved nearly unhittable last season while primarily logging eighth-inning work, securing 13 holds while posting an 0.42 ERA and 0.94 WHIP across 21.1 innings (21 appearances). The veteran left-hander's extensive body of work in high-leverage/non-closing scenarios is one reason Melvin seems intent on using him earlier than the ninth inning. When addressing how he'll handle the closer role for the time being, the Athletics skipper expressed a preference for Lou Trivino to get the first chance at ninth-inning duties.
Diekman gave up three runs (two earned) on three hits and one walk while striking out two for his only outs in Friday's game against the Astros. He came in for the ninth inning with the A's trailing 6-5, so this was not a save situation, but it was a high-leverage spot nonetheless. Sergio Romo, who is Diekman's perceived top competition for saves while Trevor Rosenthal (shoulder) is out, logged a scoreless eighth inning.
Diekman is a primary candidate to see save opportunities in the wake of Trevor Rosenthal's (shoulder) placement on the 10-day injured list Thursday, Martin Gallegos of MLB.com reports. The veteran southpaw enjoyed a dominant spring that was essentially a microcosm of his stellar 2020 campaign, with Diekman sporting an unblemished ERA and issuing just one walk across six otherwise clean innings (six appearances) in Cactus League play. Diekman failed to convert the only save opportunity he logged last season, but he posted 13 holds with a 0.42 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 31 strikeouts across 21.1 innings.
Diekman has been credited with two holds in as many Cactus League appearances -- a pair of one-inning scoreless efforts during which he's allowed no hits and one walk while recording four strikeouts. The veteran southpaw's second outing came Wednesday against the Brewers, when he followed starter Chris Bassitt in the fourth inning. Diekman was outstanding as a setup option last season while racking up a 36.8 percent strikeout rate and recording a minuscule 0.42 ERA over 21 innings, and he seems set to serve as one of manager Bob Melvin's most reliable bullpen options once again in 2021.
Diekman, who was previously projected to serve as the Athletics' primary closer to open the season, is now likely to remain in the set-up role he frequently filled in 2020 with Trevor Rosenthal agreeing to terms with the Athletics on Thursday, Martin Gallegos of MLB.com reports. Rosenthal is unsurprisingly now expected to get the majority of save opportunities after agreeing to a one-year, $11 million pact with Oakland, following a dominant 2020 with the Royals and Padres during which he recorded 11 saves in 12 chances and generated a 1.90 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. Rosenthal also has a pair of 40-plus save seasons on his resume, while Diekman, highly impressive in his own right a year ago, has largely made his living at the big-league level as a solid seventh- and eighth-inning option. Gallegos notes the left-handed sidearmer's elite velocity could still earn him some ninth-inning chances when Rosenthal is unavailable or a particular matchup calls for it, but for the moment, it appears Diekman will revert to having optimal value in fantasy formats that factor in holds.
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