His work flies under the radar, which is how life typically is for a middle reliever who is consistently getting the job done.
However, it’s getting tough to downplay the roll that A’s rookie reliever Ryan Dull is enjoying. On Monday, he entered the type of high-pressure situation that he’s thrived in all season. The Minnesota Twins had runners on first and second with two outs, the A’s up 3-1, when Dull relieved Kendall Graveman and retired Eduardo Nunez on a ground-ball force out up the middle.
Dull has now inherited 36 runners in his 38 appearances this season. He’s stranded all 36 of them. That’s a major league record for consecutive inherited runners stranded to begin a season dating back to 1961, the start of the expansion era. He continues to make a case as perhaps the A’s best All-Star candidate. Rosters for the July 12 All-Star Game will be announced Tuesday at 4 p.m.
Speaking with CSN California’s Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse after Monday’s 3-1 victory, Dull said he wasn’t aware of the historic rate at which he was stranding runners.
“I was never really aware of the record, never knew what the number really was,” Dull said. “It’s more so just trying to execute one pitch at a time and try to just leave them out there and knowing the defense will be there when we need them.”
Such excellence sneaks up on you, because Dull’s outings often get lost in the postgame discourse whether the A’s win or lose. A starter gets plenty of attention if he dominates a team for six or seven innings. A closer grabs the spotlight if he’s stashing away save after save. But a middle reliever/setup guy typically only gets noticed if he does something to blow a game.
Dull has a 0.47 ERA and is holding opponents to an .091 average (6-for-66) over his past 19 games dating back to May 25. In 42 2/3 total innings, he’s struck out 45 and walked eight.
He retired all four hitters he faced Monday using a fastball that sat in the 93 mile-per-hour range, a slider that he shows excellent command of and the occasional changeup. Opponents are 1-for-47 against him with runners in scoring position.
“I'd buy him a drink but I don't know that he's old enough,” A’s manager Bob Melvin joked to reporters about the baby-faced Dull, who is actually 26.
There was more shuffling elsewhere in the A’s bullpen before Monday’s game. Fernando Rodriguez was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained shoulder (he’ll get an MRI Tuesday) and lefty Daniel Coulombe was optioned to Triple-A Nashville. Relievers Andrew Triggs and Patrick Schuster were called up. The promotion was especially big for Schuster, a 25-year-old lefty getting his first crack at the majors. In eight professional seasons, he’s been with six different organizations. Schuster was the 2009 Sports Illustrated national boys Athlete of the Year after throwing four consecutive no-hitters as a senior for J.W. Mitchell High School in Florida.