At his current rate of production, there doesn’t seem much that A’s closer Sean Doolittle can’t do.
If you’d like to do something Doolittle can’t or won’t do, just dwell on his statistics for a bit.
–He’s 11-for-12 in save opportunities.
–He has not allowed a run in his last 23 games, a total of 25.1 innings. It’s the longest active streak in the American League and fourth-best streak in A’s history.
–He’s walked 1 and struck out 53. No pitcher since 1900 had struck out 45 before issuing a second walk.
–He’s faced 64 batters since May 60 and has retired 60 of them, allowing three hits and one walk.
–He’s allowed one base runner in June, a June 10 double by the Angels’ Collin Cowgill.
–He has a 0.68 ERA (two earned runs in 26.2 innings) from the 9th inning on this year.
–He has allowed just 1 of his 9 inherited runners to score.
You can dwell on those stats because Doolittle won’t.
“I very rarely let myself think about streaks,’’ Doolittle said. “That’s true after bad games and good games; I just leave it behind. It keeps me mentally in a good place.’’
You could take the one walk he allowed, to Tampa Bay’s Ryan Hanigan on May 20. It was, of all things, a four-pitch walk from someone who values strike throwing above all else.
The walk came right after an out-of-town reporter asked him if he knew what his streak of innings without allowing a walk was. When Doolittle said he didn’t, the reporter told him – 21 innings at the time and 33 innings over two seasons.
“After all that talk about it,’’ Doolittle said when it happened, “I knew it was coming.’’
A’s manager Bob Melvin said Doolittle is so on top of his game right now that “I’m not even comfortable talking about Sean Doolittle right now. He’s been very good.’’
Doolittle, it must be remembered, is just a few years into his conversion from being a hitter. A pro since 2007, he had just one inning’s worth of pitching before 2012, when he jumped to the big leagues with all of 17 minor league games on a pitcher’s mound to his credit.
He throws 95 and it’s not all about velocity. The heater moves down and through the strike zone with an almost innate ability to avoid bats. He can pitch up in the strike zone where most pitchers get hurt. And this year he’s added a slider that’s good enough that hitters have to at least think that it might be coming.
There are closers with more saves in the American League, eight of them heading into this weekend that will be spent by the A’s in Miami.
But with the All-Star Game rosters starting to firm up, it’s hard to see any reliever more qualified to be on the AL All-Star team