Fiers set for A's debut; Kelley joins bullpen

Pinder comes off DL; Barreto, Dull, Wendelken optioned

August 8th, 2018

OAKLAND -- The A's welcomed two new faces to the clubhouse on Tuesday, and both Mike Fiers and were excited to join a team in postseason contention. 

On Wednesday, Fiers will make his debut for the A's with a start against  and the Dodgers at the Coliseum, with playoff implications likely riding on each of his outings for the rest of the campaign.

For the 33-year-old veteran, who was acquired by Oakland from Detroit on Monday in exchange for two players to be named or cash considerations, this is exactly what he wants.

"I want to pitch against these tough teams in a playoff race, show these guys I can do this and be a part of it," Fiers said. "Obviously, a tough team like the Dodgers, soon-to-be Hall of Famer in Clayton Kershaw ... it's exciting."

Fiers has appeared in just one inning of postseason action over his career, pitching for the Astros in the 2015 American League Division Series. With the A's on a tear and ahead of the Mariners by two games entering play on Tuesday for the second AL Wild Card spot, the playoffs are within reach. Fiers was honored and excited to be acquired by a postseason contender.

"I want to win. Everyone wants to win," he said. "That's everyone's goal to start the season: Make the playoffs, see what can happen after that. This team's giving me the opportunity to pitch for a winning ballclub. That's what I want to do. I'm honored to be a part of it and just trying to do my job here."

Fiers is 7-6 with a 3.48 ERA in 21 starts, and he will slot into an injury-stricken rotation that has turned to veteran journeymen , and to fill spots. Though the starters have been pitching well of late -- 5-0 with a 0.73 ERA over the first six games of the homestand -- they have struggled to pitch deep into games. Fiers, who has pitched into the seventh inning or later four times this season, is capable of it.

"He wants to be out there," manager Bob Melvin said. "I talked to him about that. I understand guys want to be out there for a while. I want that. I want guys not happy about potentially come out of the game early. He's got some grit in him and got some gamer in him. It's nice to have that dynamic on the mound, too. "

Fiers has played with outfielder  and catcher with the Brewers and infielder  with the Astros. Fiers said Lucroy already knows his plan of attack, which will help him a great deal. He also has a positive impression of the A's.

"I feel like they're really young," Fiers said. "They run everything out, they dive, they block balls. They do everything you can to win ballgames. You want to be a part of something like that. You just want to be part of an organization that gives everything to the team and gives everything to these fans."

Kelley open to any role

Since being designated for assignment by the Nationals last week after an outburst on the mound during a 25-4 win over the Mets, Kelley has been enjoying days off with his kids, waiting for a call to come. When it came from Oakland on Sunday -- Kelley was acquired along with cash for international slot money -- he was excited.

"If you went somewhere this time of year to a team that wasn't in [a playoff race], it would probably be bad timing," said Kelley, who was called on in the sixth inning Tuesday and got two outs to escape a bases-loaded jam in his A's debut. "So I had fingers crossed that I'd go to somebody that I was in it, in a race."

The 34-year-old Kelley, who has experience closing and appeared in two postseason games with the Nationals in 2016, said he is willing to fill whatever role necessary to get to the playoffs.

"I'm at the point in my career where I want to get to the playoffs and have a run and have fun," he said. "The role, to me, doesn't really matter."

Melvin said when he will use Kelley -- who has a 3.34 ERA in 35 games -- is to be determined, but he envisions Kelley filling a similar role to those of and , who typically pitch in the middle innings. The A's manager now has plenty of reliable arms in the bullpen, which already features three elite relievers in , and .

"I don't know if I've had this many quality arms in the bullpen, ever, since I've been managing," Melvin said.

Pinder off the disabled list

The A's reinstated off the disabled list before Tuesday's game and he started in left field. Pinder was placed on the DL after sustaining a left elbow laceration in a car accident in Denver last Saturday. To make room for Pinder, Kelley and Fiers, the A's optioned , J.B. Wendelken and to Triple-A Nashville.