Righthander Bobby Wahl can consistently pitch at 95 mph—both up and down in the strike zone and inside and outside.
But what could make the reliever most successful is that he can throw three other pitches when the situation dictates.
“We want him to be a power pitcher, not just a thrower,” pitching coordinator Gil Patterson said. “He has the ability to throw his breaking ball, and he can bounce his curve when he needs to.”
By adding a changeup and a cutter-slider hybrid to his mix, Wahl has enough to keep hitters off balance.
“I like his whole repertoire,” Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. “He has a cutter that can be a slider at times.”
The 6-foot-4, 233-pound Wahl got the call to the majors in May, where he topped out at 97 mph. He began the season with eight appearances at Triple-A Nashville, where he recorded a 1.93 ERA with three saves.
Wahl grew up in the Washington D.C. area, then advanced to the University of Mississippi “for the heat,” he said. He went 10-0, 2.03 as a junior and became Oakland’s fifth-round pick in 2013.
His father Bob Sr. serves as a security and construction advisor for the U.S. government and was on assignment to London when Bobby got the call to the majors. The senior Wahl made the long flight in time to see his son’s debut.
The personable Wahl began life with the A’s as a starter but made the move to the bullpen in 2015 after a string of injuries. “I love the adrenaline shot of coming into a tough situation,” he said.
Wahl would welcome the chance to compete for the closer role in the future, after he establishes himself as a big leaguer.
“Obviously, you want to get the most out of your ability,” Wahl said, “and I would love a chance to have that opportunity.”
— Casey Tefertiller is a writer based in Oakland