2019 A's Projections: Can J.B. Wendelken Produce With Bigger Workload?

Editor's note: For the past few weeks, NBC Sports California has been analyzing a different A's player each day to project their numbers for next season.

J.B. Wendelken was arguably the most pleasant surprise on the entire A's roster last season.

The 25-year-old began the year in Triple-A after missing the 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery. When he was called up to the big leagues, he dominated hitters in his limited opportunities, allowing just one run and eight hits in 16 2/3 innings, good for a 0.54 ERA.

Wendelken relies on his plus fastball, throwing it 61 percent of the time last season, according to FanGraphs. He mixes in a curveball and changeup to keep hitters off balance. Last year he struck out 14 and walked five in his 16 2/3 innings of work.

[RELATED: Yusmeiro Petit's projected 2019 numbers]

Wendelken performed so well, he even made the A's 25-man roster for the AL Wild Card Game against the Yankees. He figures to have an expanded role this season as a setup man for Blake Treinen, joining Lou Trivino, Joakim Soria, Fernando Rodney, and Ryan Buchter in that role.

Baseball Reference projects Wendelken to go 2-1 with a 3.82 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 33 innings next season. They predict him to strike out 32 and walk 12.

We expect Wendelken to pitch significantly more innings and perform better than those projections. The A's will rely heavily on their bullpen once again and Wendelken should be a primary option in the sixth and seventh innings.

Projection: 4-2, 2.67 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 54 K, 17 BB, 51 IP

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