OAKLAND -- Potential playoff teams scouring the open market for relief help in the coming weeks have to be envious of the pitching-rich A's.
Oakland's bullpen has quietly proved to be the best in the American League, compiling a league-leading 2.73 ERA and Major League-best .203 opponents' average and .319 slugging percentage. In 12 games in July, the relief arms have allowed four runs in 37 2/3 innings.
Perhaps they can be deemed the unsung heroes of Oakland's recent surge? Manager Bob Melvin seems to think so, and he doesn't take his bullpen talent -- or the fact he has three excellent lefties in Jerry Blevins, Jordan Norberto and Sean Doolittle -- for granted.
"We're very fortunate to have the type of left-handers that we do," Melvin said. "Blev might be the one down there that's more of a left-handed specialist, where we feel like Norberto and certainly Doolittle at this point get right-handers out just as well. We're lucky to have this many quality left-handers, not only here, but in our system."
Down under, the A's have southpaw Pedro Figueroa posting similar numbers for Triple-A Sacramento, where he has a 2.51 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings. The southpaw has had three stints with the A's this year already and figures to be a big league mainstay by season's end.
Each of the A's bullpen arms figures to remain with the club through the Trade Deadline, unless Oakland receives an overwhelming offer for Grant Balfour, who is expected to garner a high level of interest.