Oakland Adds Bullpen Depth With Petit and Romo by Dan Szymborski February 15, 2021 The A’s continued to stockpile relievers over the weekend, signing free agents Yusmeiro Petit and Sergio Romo to one-year contracts, both for a little over $2 million for the 2021 season. Petit is a familiar face in Oakland and will likely play a similar role as he has since 2018: pitching mostly mid-leverage innings, mainly in the sixth through eighth innings. He was rarely used for longer than an inning in 2020; the odd shape of the season and the more expansive roster made this less desirable and less necessary. Still, in the past, he’s been one of the closest players to the old long reliever archetype that has largely faded out of baseball. Most Two-Inning Relief Appearances, Active Pitchers Player Appearances Craig Stammen 107 Yusmeiro Petit 106 T.J. McFarland 86 Anthony Swarzak 85 Matt Albers 83 Jesse Chavez 81 Adam Warren 60 Matt Andriese 60 Michael Lorenzen 59 Jared Hughes 54 Adam Ottavino 52 Wade LeBlanc 52 Seth Lugo 50 Brad Brach 50 Anthony Bass 50 Among active pitchers, only Stammen has made more two-inning relief appearances. Compared to history, though, 106 appearances only gets Petit into a tie for 323rd all-time, behind the relief stars primarily from the 1960s, 70s and 80s who dominated this usage. Most Two-Inning Relief Appearances Player Appearances Hoyt Wilhelm 486 Lindy McDaniel 426 Gene Garber 380 Rich Gossage 375 Rollie Fingers 373 Kent Tekulve 354 Don McMahon 350 Tug McGraw 347 Mike Marshall 335 Eddie Fisher 332 Sparky Lyle 323 Clay Carroll 315 Stu Miller 302 Bill Campbell 301 Ron Perranoski 300 SOURCE: Baseball-Reference One of Petit’s relief stints will be long remembered by baseball fans: his six-inning appearance in Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS while a member of the Giants. That was the 18-inning marathon against the Nationals that wasn’t settled until a Brandon Belt homer in the final frame. Petit allowed just a single hit in those six innings, and that appearance remains the all-time leader for relief WPA in a postseason game. Most Valuable Relief Appearances, Postseason Player Date Series Gm# WPA Yusmeiro Petit 10/4/2014 NLDS 2 .775 Blix Donnelly 10/5/1944 WS 2 .644 Dolf Luque 10/7/1933 WS 5 .642 Roger McDowell 10/15/1986 NLCS 6 .635 Orlando Hernandez 10/7/2005 ALDS 3 .616 Dick Donovan 10/6/1959 WS 5 .601 Madison Bumgarner 10/29/2014 WS 7 .600 Walter Johnson 10/10/1924 WS 7 .589 John Rocker 10/8/1999 NLDS 3 .586 Sparky Lyle 10/8/1977 ALCS 4 .570 Joe Page 10/7/1949 WS 3 .562 Darren O’Day 10/11/2012 ALDS 4 .558 Hank Borowy 10/8/1945 WS 6 .541 Derek Lowe 10/6/2003 ALDS 5 .532 Marv Grissom 9/29/1954 WS 1 .531 Tug McGraw 10/9/1973 NLCS 4 .524 Diego Castillo 10/11/2020 ALCS 1 .511 Ron Taylor 10/11/1964 WS 4 .511 Roy Face 10/9/1960 WS 4 .510 Pete Alexander 10/10/1926 WS 7 .510 Rosy Ryan 10/10/1923 WS 1 .499 Braden Looper 10/22/2003 WS 4 .492 Rich Gossage 10/8/1981 ALDS 2 .477 Hugh McQuillan 10/10/1924 WS 7 .475 Mariano Rivera 10/4/1995 ALDS 2 .471 Tim Wakefield 10/18/2004 ALCS 5 .468 SOURCE: Baseball-Reference Even including all pitchers instead of just relievers leaves Petit’s game at 15th all-time! As a soft-tosser, Petit tends to be on the homer-prone side when his usually-excellent command falters, and if Jake Diekman struggles as the closer, he is unlikely to be high on the priority list in save opportunities. Still, he ought to continue to be fairly dependable in his mid-inning role. I would expect that he’ll make fewer early-inning appearances in the past if the team starts the season with Rule 5 pick Dany Jiménez on the roster. ZiPS Projection – Yusmeiro Petit Year W L S ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR 2021 4 3 2 3.72 62 0 65.3 60 27 10 12 59 114 0.7 Romo has a lot of Bay Area experience as a member of the Giants in all three of their recent World Series championship seasons. He’s only been used as a closer a few times in his 13 seasons, but he’s been very effective for a non-flamethrowing reliever and still holds a career ERA under three. He’s pretty much the same pitcher he was a decade ago, with the caveat that everything’s just missing five mph or so: slow fastball, slower sinker, slider, and the occasional change. Romo will turn 38 next month, but he can probably do this indefinitely; I’m not convinced that Doug Jones at 63 years old would be that much worse a pitcher than he was 25 years ago. Like Petit, Romo can occasionally be homer-prone — in his case usually when a “fastball” dangles over the heart of the plate. Using Gameday’s definition of the “heart” of the strike zone, batters slugged .581 against fastballs and sinkers over the heart of the zone. Against Romo, they’ve slugged .800. WhateverIt’sNamedThisYear Coliseum is a good home to help contain those mistakes, just as San Francisco was for him earlier in his career. And don’t let the velocity fool you: Romo can still punch out batters to finish at-bats. Slider Strikeouts by Relievers, 2018-2020 Pitcher Strikeouts Amir Garrett 135 Brad Hand 135 Will Smith 132 Edwin Diaz 126 Luke Jackson 117 Diego Castillo 113 Adam Ottavino 108 José Leclerc 106 Sergio Romo 97 Aroldis Chapman 97 Reyes Moronta 91 Jake Diekman 91 Luis Cessa 88 Paul Fry 82 Felix Peña 81 SOURCE: Statcast Among relief pitchers, Romo ranks ninth in slider strikeouts over the last three seasons. From 2008 to ’16, his prime with the Giants, he ranked third, behind only Carlos Marmol and Luke Gregerson. ZiPS Projection – Sergio Romo Year W L S ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR 2021 3 2 28 4.13 50 0 44.3 42 20 7 14 45 103 0.2 With the addition of a soft-tossing triptych (the A’s also picked up Adam Kolarek from the Dodgers last week), ZiPS projects Oakland with the 15th-best bullpen in baseball, smack-dab in the middle. The end of the bullpen ranks well — ZiPS pegs the relievers beyond the top four as the ninth-best in baseball — but the A’s are still missing the sizzle. It might not matter in the end, as there are no juggernaut teams in the AL West, and Oakland has a history of finding relief help out of unlikely sources.