OAKLAND -- The A's bullpen has been a target of frequent criticism this season. After allowing three runs in Wednesday night's 6-3 loss to the Angels, Oakland's relievers had a combined 4.50 ERA, which ranked 26th in the Majors. It's a far cry from the unit's ERA of 2.91 in 2014, ranking third.
Despite letting two inherited runners score on Mike Trout's double in the seventh on Wednesday, Evan Scribner has stood out as a steady presence. While Tyler Clippard has been moved into the closer's role with Sean Doolittle (shoulder) on the disabled list, Scribner has found himself in some high-pressure situations. Like on Tuesday night, when he struck out Trout, Albert Pujols and David Freese in order to close out Oakland's 6-2 win.
"He's moved up to that, right now, that eighth-inning role, the setup-type role and he deserves to," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "The slider/cutter has been a terrific pitch for him. His fastball and his curveball have been more up and down, now he has a pitch to go side to side. We saw that there's some hitters taking some funky swings at it. He's pitching with a lot of confidence on top of it."
The right-hander has spent the past three years shuttling between Oakland and Triple-A. Near the end of last season, Scribner realized that he needed to develop a pitch to complement his fastball, so he added a cutter to his arsenal, and it's paid big dividends.
Through nine appearances this season, Scribner has a 1.46 ERA with 14 strikeouts and one walk in 12 1/3 innings.
"I think the added pitch is mainly the biggest thing I'd say," Scribner said. "Couple other things go into it. Mainly getting an opportunity to stay and play here. Knowing that they -- the out of options thing -- they can't send me back and forth [to the Minor Leagues] like they have been doing. That helps me out."
The 29-year-old is also happy to be settling into a late-inning role as opposed to being used as a middle reliever and long man like in previous seasons.
"I'd rather be here helping the team out directly, doing this," Scribner said.
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.