HOUSTON — Ryan Dull nailed down a save Saturday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be appearing regularly in the ninth inning for the A’s.
With Sean Doolittle sidelined with a shoulder ailment, manager Bob Melvin considers Dull an obviously strong option for the eighth inning, but all indications are Ryan Madson remains Oakland’s closer.
“I wasn’t going to use Madson yesterday,” Melvin explained of his decision-making in Saturday’s win. “It would have been three in a row for him, and you have to try to keep guys available. You don’t want to use all your guys and then not have three guys on a particular day. (Dull) was the most rested guy yesterday. He’s been in situations with guys on base before, just not in that inning.”
Madson gave up Luis Valbuena’s three-run walk-off homer Friday night, but he’d converted 17 of 20 save opportunities leading up to that and generally has been solid serving as Oakland’s primary closer. But with Doolittle and right-hander Fernando Rodriguez both on the disabled list due to shoulder strains, the A’s late-inning relief picture no doubt takes on a different look.
Rodriguez has been feeling better, Melvin said Sunday morning, but Doolittle has yet to start throwing and there’s no timetable yet for when either pitcher might return.
Worth noting regarding Dull: His emergence as a reliable late-inning man should give the A’s some confidence if they consider dealing one of their veteran relievers as the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
Dull, who’s been the A’s best reliever over the first half, saw his streak of stranding inherited runners end at 36 on Saturday. That was the longest such streak known of in major league history. On Sunday morning, Dull happened to be sporting a clean-shaven look, having got rid of the facial hair he’s had for several weeks. But Dull said the decision had nothing to do with seeing his streak end. His goatee was beginning to itch, and he told teammates leading up to Saturday’s game that he was putting his razor to use regardless.
The A’s still haven’t announced their full rotation coming out of the All-Star break. Rich Hill will pitch Friday’s series opener against Toronto at home, with Sonny Gray going Saturday. Should the current rotation remain intact, that would have Daniel Mengden, Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea following those two.