When the A's deepened their bullpen in the offseason, the common thinking was the competent relief corps would take pressure off the young starters.

No need to push themselves to pitch deep into games.

To which the rotation has a response: Don't worry about us.

"It's not like, 'I can go five, and these guys can go six, seven, eight, nine,' " Jarrod Parker said. "It's not that way. We want to go as deep as we can. At the same time, we know what we have down there in the bullpen. It's one of the best in the league."

A.J. Griffin added, "I guess it does give you a little sense of security, but you want to go out there and pitch as long as you can every time."

Manager Bob Melvin has a different twist: "Our starters want to take the pressure off the bullpen."

What a nice problem: not enough innings to go around. That's only in a perfect world, of course. In the real world, you-never-have-too-much-pitching - a mantra for any pitching coach - applies to the A's even if they seemingly upgraded from posting the second-lowest ERA in the American League, 3.56.

The bullpen's ERA was 3.22, so what did general manager Billy Beane do? He added parts, including accomplished setup man/sinker aficionado Luke Gregerson. When last season opened, the setup guys were Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook, and now the crew goes four-deep, including sinkerballer Dan Otero, who evolved from struggling Giant to prosperous Athletic, arriving in mid-June and finishing with a 1.38 ERA.