Why A's Will Try Converting Matt Harvey to Relief Pitcher at Triple-A

With the A's desperate for reliable bullpen arms, it appears they will try out veteran starter Matt Harvey out in a relief role.

According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the right-hander will shift from starter to reliever at Triple-A Las Vegas.

The move certainly makes sense, as Oakland has plenty of starting pitching options already and Harvey was unlikely to ever join the A's rotation. All five Oakland starters have pitched at least reasonably well over the past month, and now Sean Manaea and Jesús Luzardo are nearing returns from injury.

The bullpen, of course, has been another story. Outside of Liam Hendriks, it's been a struggle for manager Bob Melvin to find consistent options to pitch the late innings. As a unit, the A's pen has a 4.13 ERA and an AL-leading 24 blown saves. Hendriks is the only reliever on the roster with an ERA under three.

The A's signed Harvey to a minor-league deal earlier this month after he was released by the Angels in July. The 30-year-old has made three starts in Triple-A, going 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA and 1.07 WHIP.

Harvey actually has come out of the bullpen a handful of times throughout his seven-year career, including four times last season. If he performs well in Las Vegas, the A's might be willing to give him a shot in their bullpen down the stretch.

At this point, Oakland should be willing to try anything to improve its bullpen's performance. Perhaps Luzardo could become another relief option, joining fellow top prospect A.J. Puk in that role.

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The A's could also choose to move one of their current starters to the pen, especially with Manaea ready to return to the rotation. Right-hander Chris Bassitt could make sense as a seventh or eighth-inning option, given his explosive fastball and equally effective curveball. He came out of the bullpen on four occasions last year. 

For now, the A's will keep close tabs on Harvey's performance in Las Vegas. If he has success in a relief role, he could very well wind up in Oakland in the not too distant future.

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