By Jason Wojciechowski on June 5, 2015 at 3:02 PM
In his eighth season in professional baseball, Pat Venditte has finally received a call to the majors. The only pitcher who requires a special notation on his Baseball Reference page
will pitch out of the A's bullpen after the team finally tired of The Dan Otero Show:
That's ugly. Given that he has options, it made sense that he'd go as soon as the A's decided he wasn't going to turn things around in the majors any time soon. By the way, it never dawned on me that Otero had options, but in retrospect, it's obvious:
|2011-12 offseason||Contract purchased by Giants|
|2012||Optioned by Giants|
|2013||Waived by Giants, claimed by Yankees|
|2013||DFA'd and waived by Yankees, claimed by A's|
|2013||Optioned by the A's|
|Seven days later, 2013||DFA'd and outrighted by A's|
|2013||Added back to the 40-man by A's|
|2014||Spends entire year in the majors|
Otero has only been optioned once in his career, because the optional assignment in 2013 was shorter than 20 days, which means he's still going to be optionable even come 2016 (unless another rule besides the basic three-options comes into play).
In any event, Otero heads out and the A's, rather than calling up Ryan Cook or R.J. Alvarez or Chris Bassitt (or waiting ten days and calling up Arnold Leon or Angel Castro), chose to reward the long-suffering pitcher everyone suspects of being a gimmick, but who, at 30, has given up just one homer in 33 PCL innings while striking out a batter per inning. His hit rate is a little crazy (just 19 knocks all year), but even putting that aside, he's pitched well enough for the A's to take a look and see whether his extremely underwhelming stuff will work in the majors.
Meanwhile, what the hell is the deal with Otero? I spent a number of minutes scrolling through his PITCHf/x data at Brooks Baseball, 2013-14 in one tab and 2015 in another, and I've got nothing. He added a cutter this year, but in terms of percentage usage it's basically eaten into his slider, not his sinker. The sinker is a half-tick slower than it's been, and has about half an inch less drop than it did. Maybe it's that. Maybe that's what it adds up to. The groundball rate on the sinker has fallen from 61 percent to 54, but Otero has had a total of 52 balls in play on the pitch this year. Seven percentage points means four grounders converted to balls in the air. That's one every eight innings. Margins for pitchers are thin, sure, but a lost grounder every eight innings by itself triple a man's ERA.
By the way, if you want statistical backup for the idea your eyes tell you that it isn't just bad ball-in-play luck for Otero this year: he has a 7.04 DRA, 511th out of 544 pitchers in the league, compared to 3.08 last year, which was a top-100 mark out of 692.
Drew Pomeranz is back, by the way. He'll pitch out of the bullpen because Kendall Graveman has been fine in his return from exile to Nashville. Pomeranz threw last night. Okay.