How A's Only Left-handed Reliever Ryan Buchter Became Key to Bullpen

With all the big names in the A's bullpen, it's easy to forget about Ryan Buchter. But since the beginning of August, the 31-year-old left-hander has been as reliable as anyone for Oakland.

Buchter has allowed just two earned runs in his last 22 outings, stranding 20 straight inherited runners. For the season, the veteran is 5-0 with a 2.89 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.

"I just want to do my job and do it well," Buchter told NBC Sports California. "It's been a lot of fun this year. The guys are great. The clubhouse is great."

Buchter will likely be the only left-handed reliever on Oakland's postseason roster. He has been lights out against left-handed hitters this season, allowing just a .177 batting average with 26 strikeouts against six walks.

"Very (important)," said manager Bob Melvin of Buchter's impact down the stretch. "There are certain teams in the league where he gets a lot of work."

While the Yankees' lineup is dominated by right-handed hitters, Buchter could enter the Wild Card Game for a crucial battle against shortstop Didi Gregorius, if healthy, or Brett Gardner. If the A's advance to face Boston, he would almost certainly face lefties like Andrew Benintendni, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mitch Moreland, and Rafael Devers at some point in the series.

Buchter signed a one-year, $555,000 deal with the A's this offseason after back-to-back stellar seasons, where he posted an ERA under three. The signing has proven to be a bargain for Oakland.

Buchter has allowed just 12 earned runs on 32 hits in 37 1/3 innings this season, striking out 37 and walking 13. He has been especially valuable in September, as other key members of the A's bullpen have struggled.

Lou Trivino has allowed eight earned runs in seven innings this month for an ERA of 10.29. Veteran right-hander Fernando Rodney has a 7.04 ERA in September, Shawn Kelley's is 6.00, and Jeurys Familia is at 5.23. Meanwhile, Buchter has recorded an ERA of 2.25.

While the A's certainly hope their other setup men get back on track before the postseason, they can feel comfortable trusting Buchter to retire any key lefties in opposing lineups.

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