NEW YORK - When A's reliever Liam Hendriks starts Wednesday night's American League Wild Card Game against the Yankees, he will become the first opener in MLB postseason history. But as the A's already have shown, just because something never has been tried before doesn't mean it will fail.
"If you're not constantly striving to get that first foot in the door just to move forward, I think you're going to stand hill," Hendriks said. "We're trying some different ways. If there's any team to do it, it's the A's. We've been ahead of the curve with a whole lot of things. So this is just another way that hopefully we're ahead of the curve."
Said third baseman Matt Chapman: "Our bullpen has been able to pick us up and keep us in so many games, so I understand the decision. Win or lose, you want your guys on the mound. We feel confident with those guys and their ability to throw strikes and keep us in the game, so I like it."
Oakland experimented with bullpenning several times last month, with mixed results. But A's manager Bob Melvin believes the tactic gives his team the best chance to win the winner-take-all game.
"We've had good bullpen numbers," he noted. "We're just trying to do the best thing we can for a particular day, and based on a lot of the experimenting we've done recently, I think they've acclimated to this and really aren't surprised by much anymore."
Added closer Blake Treinen: "We all have faith in everybody out here to go out and compete. We've got a great staff."
The A's haven't yet decided whether this will be fully a bullpen game, but it appears likely. Their top two starters, Mike Fiers and Edwin Jackson, both have struggled at Yankee Stadium throughout their careers. With a deep and rested bullpen, Oakland should have no problem covering nine innings.
"Obviously it's a new thing to us a little bit," Hendriks admitted. "But we've had enough success with it over the last month or so that we're going to give it a whirl. ... We've definitely got capable arms. We're going to mix and match and see how it goes."
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