There is some unfortunate news coming out of Oakland this evening.
We’re learning that Athletics closer Sean Doolittle has a “slight” rotator cuff tear and significant inflammation in his pitcher shoulder.
The lefty received a platelet-rich plasma injection, but he is not currently expected to be ready for Opening Day.
This news is just breaking out of Oakland courtesy of MLB.com’s Jane Lee and Oakland Clubhouse’s Melissa Lockard:
Doolittle, 28, took over the closer’s role in 2014 and excelled, posting career bests across the board and making his first All-Star team.
On the whole he notched 22 saves with a 2.72 ERA, .734 WHIP, 137 ERA+, and an 89/8 K/BB ratio in 61 appearances.
Doolittle’s shoulder issues reportedly first flared-up when he began his off-season throwing program.
It’s not clear at this time if general manager Billy Beane was aware of the injury last week when he acquired reliever Tyler Clippard from the Washington Nationals in exchange for recently-acquired shortstop Yunel Escobar.
Whether it was shrewd planning or just good fortune, Beane has a fallback plan in place.
Clippard, 29, saved 32 games for the Nationals in 2012 and should get the first crack at the ninth inning in Doolittle’s absence.
Clippard has been an elite setup man in the Washington bullpen for years posting an aggregate 2.68 ERA, 1.047 WHIP, 148 ERA+, and averaging 10.3 K/9 during his seven-year stint with the Nationals.
Free-agent closers Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano, and Casey Janssen are all still readily available on the market should Beane feel the need to further solidify the back-end of the Oakland bullpen.
Doolittle suffered through a series of injuries and setbacks early in his career, before breaking through with the A’s in 2012. Here’s hoping he can work through this, avoid surgery, and return to the hill this season.