Some relievers have the intimidation factor going for them the moment they step on the mound.
Ryan Dull likely has the opposite effect on hitters. They might see his slight frame and boyish looks and assume they’re going to get the best of the A’s rookie. If so, Dull is changing minds quickly around the American League.
He impressed once again Saturday night in the A’s 5-3 victory over the Texas Rangers. The North Carolina native fired two scoreless innings, striking out the side after he entered in the seventh with a runner on and the top of Texas’ lineup waiting for him.
In six appearances since being promoted Sept. 1, his numbers dazzle -– 8 innings, two hits allowed, zero runs, one walk, 10 strikeouts. Most impressive is the cool demeanor with which Dull is handling the situations he encounters. A’s manager Bob Melvin has shown no hesitation calling upon Dull to face the most dangerous part of an opponent’s lineup.
“His mound presence probably has been as impressive as anything,” Melvin said earlier this week.
That mound presence belies the youthful appearance of the 25-year-old. Melvin recalled with amusement the first time he saw the shaggy-haired Dull at the Coliseum on the day he was promoted from Triple-A.
“When I first saw him in the clubhouse, I thought we had a new clubhouse kid,” the manager admitted.
But the minor league numbers told Melvin, and the rest of the front office, all they needed to know. Dull struck out 73 in 61 innings split between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville. He posted an ERA of 0.74 and a WHIP of 0.90.
“This is a guy, as a staff, we had been looking at for quite a while and kind of pushing to try and get him here,” Melvin said.
His performance so far suggests Dull will be in the thick of the battle for a bullpen spot come spring training, perhaps even competing for a late-inning role. Beyond closer Sean Doolittle -– and perhaps Drew Pomeranz, if he remains a reliever -– there’s nobody who seems guaranteed of a role in 2016 as things currently stand.
Don’t let the youthful looks fool you. With each big league outing, Dull is showing how much he belongs.
Sam Fuld drew his second consecutive start in center field in place of Billy Burns, who mlb.com reported is likely to miss Sunday’s series finale as well as he recovers from tightness in his right hamstring.