Coulombe stepping up in Doolittle's absence

A's lone lefty bullpen arm, originally a long reliever, delivering in everyday role

June 7th, 2017

OAKLAND -- When A's reliever (shoulder) hit the disabled list at the end of April, it left as the only left-handed pitcher in the bullpen.

Coulombe has been effective ever since, pitching 10 1/3 innings across 14 appearances since the beginning of May, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits and four walks entering Wednesday. He's struck out 13 while keeping his ERA down to 1.74.

"He's done a really nice job for us after being thrust into a role he hasn't pitched in before," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "For a guy that's usually used in down games and for multiple innings, to come in and be that left-handed specialist, he's done a really good job."

After making the team as a long reliever, Coulombe said the biggest adjustment for him was preparing to be ready to pitch every day.

"I had to get used to pitching more frequently," Coulombe said. "Even in Spring Training, it's always been two days between when I've pitched. Just having to be ready to pitch back-to-backs is a different toll on your body, but I enjoy that more anyway."

He's either pitched or warmed up in six straight games for the A's, making three appearances and not allowing a run across two innings of work. A's catcher believes that Coulombe's balanced used of his three pitches -- fastball, slider and curve -- is what makes him so effective.

"It's huge knowing you can call any pitch at any time," Vogt said. "But it's also huge because, a lot of times, lefty specialists come in and they're kind of predictable to lefties. For him to be 33-percent or so on all of them is huge, because guys can't just sit on one pitch."

With Doolittle set to rejoin the team in St. Petersburg this weekend, Melvin says Coulombe's role will be flexible based on Doolittle's availability.

"I don't know if we'll be using [Doolittle] a couple days in a row to start," Melvin said. "So it depends on what Sean's role is on a particular day and whether he's available or not."

And even though Coulombe has stepped up in Doolittle's absence, he's excited to see his return from the disabled list.

"It's fun to feel like you're contributing, but I'm excited for him to come back," Coulombe said. "Anytime you can add a guy like Doolittle to the bullpen, that can help us out. I don't know how it's going to change my role, but it's going to be great to have him back."

Worth noting

• Melvin penciled in as Oakland's DH for the second straight day on Wednesday. Melvin said the A's are being cautious after he tweaked his left calf Monday night, especially with a series on turf at Tampa Bay coming up over the weekend.

• Matt Joyce (quad) was out of the starting lineup for the second straight day on Wednesday, though he could be available off the bench to pinch-hit. Melvin said the off-day tomorrow will be big for him.