A’s manager Bob Melvin said Saturday he is switching to a closer-by-committee approach after Brian Fuentes’ second ninth-inning meltdown the night before. Fuentes, Grant Balfour and Ryan Cook will all split closer duties depending on their availability and individual matchups, according to Melvin. “I feel like we have three closers now,” he said. “We’ll do the best we can to match up.”
Balfour won the closer’s job in spring training but was demoted in mid-May after struggling. Fuentes took over and had success initially, but he has allowed walkoff three-run homers in two of his past four outings, and his three blown saves are tied for second-most in the American League.
Cook, a rookie right-hander who has been unscored upon in 23 of his 24 appearances, provides the most intriguing option because of his dominance in the setup role.
“He could end up pitching the ninth,” Melvin said, “but if the bases are loaded with two outs in the eighth, he might be (the best option).” Melvin prefers having one clear-cut option in the ninth but said of his current closer situation: “At this point in time we’re having a bit of an issue.”
***Yoenis Cespedes said he was hopeful of being available to pinch-hit tonight. Melvin held out the same hope, but it was contingent on how Cespedes fared during batting practice. No matter how he feels hitting, running is probably an even bigger issue considering Cespedes is returning from a strained hamstring.
–It’s an identical starting lineup from Friday night for the A’s, and why not considering how they hit the ball? One player to keep an eye on — Coco Crisp. He’s 3 for 3 with a home run against Arizona starter Trevor Cahill. Only three other current A’s have faced Cahill — Brandon Inge is 2 for 6, Seth Smith is 1 for 3 with a homer and Josh Reddick is 1 for 3 with a double.
A’s — Weeks 2B, Crisp CF, Reddick RF, Smith LF, Inge 3B, Moss 1B, Suzuki C, Pennington SS, Parker RHP.
D’backs — Parra CF, Bloomquist SS, Upton RF, Kubel LF, Goldschmidt 1B, Montero C, Hill 2B, Bell 3B, Cahill RHP.