BALTIMORE - With the A's starting rotation struggling, reliever Liam Hendriks finds himself at the center of the A's new bullpen strategy, opening three games so far.
This is the same Liam Hendriks who battled through a couple of injuries early in the season before being designated for assignment June 25 after building up a 7.36 ERA over 13 appearances.
Back then, Hendriks, the ex-Twin from Australia, was topping out around 91 mph on his fastball. At 29, Hendriks decided to take a risk after he went unclaimed in June and was assigned to the A's Triple-A affiliate in Nashville.
"I just went down there and said if I'm gonna experiment, I've got nothing to lose right now," Hendriks said.
The righthander mapped out a new throwing regimen, which included playing more long toss, to build up arm strength. A few weeks into his minor league stint, Hendriks' fastball velocity was 97 mph.
"The ball had a little more life and as it kept going it was gaining velocity," said Hendriks, who went 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA in 23 appearances at Nashville. He struck out 43 with four walks over 25⅓ innings.
Hendriks has performed well in his new role, turning in three scoreless first inning so far.
East Bay Times