Add another key injury, and suddenly the Orioles' solid bullpen is on shaky ground - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Add another key injury, and suddenly the Orioles’ solid bullpen is on shaky ground

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

On Friday, we chatted in Connolly’s Tap Room about which Oriole is the most indispensable in 2017.

A few hours later, veteran reliever Darren O’Day was placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Wednesday, with a right shoulder strain.

O’Day wasn’t necessarily a popular answer in the Tap Room, but closer Zach Britton, who has been on the shelf for much of the season with a left forearm strain, was mentioned often.

Britton’s still out – probably until at least early July. And now O’Day is unavailable for at least a week and maybe more considering his shoulder has been barking off and on for a while.

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Therefore, this bullpen for the next month or so is a real concern.

Brad Brach is fine in the interim closer’s role. He’s not Britton, but he’ll do the job.

Mychal Givens has an electric arm and shows flashes of brilliance. But he’s still inexperienced when it comes to continually pitching in high-leverage situations, which will be the norm now that O’Day is temporarily shelved. Can he do it? Sure. But there’s no guarantee.

And then what?

Lefty Donnie Hart, who was so good last year, is back in the minors after stumbling some in 2017. Richard Bleier, the only left-hander currently in the bullpen, has been primarily effective, but the jury is out on exactly what the team has in him.

Mike Wright’s stuff has always screamed one-inning reliever to me, and the Orioles look willing to keep him in the big-league bullpen instead of in the Triple-A rotation for now. And I applaud that decision. But there’s going to be a learning curve for Wright, which the club may not be able to afford with the current staff makeup.

Ubaldo Jimenez is in the bullpen because he can’t be trusted in the rotation. But he’s had little success as a reliever in his career, partially because he’s had so much trouble in the first innings of outings in recent years.

Edwin Jackson (pictured above) was called up to be Vance Worley 2.0, but has been less than effective in his first two outings. On Friday in an 8-2 loss at Yankee Stadium, Jackson tossed away a  one-run game — first by making a throwing error and then by allowing a two-run homer, a walk and a run-scoring double.

Stefan Crichton, called up Friday to replace O’Day on the roster, picked up an out in the seventh to rescue Jackson, but allowed the first five batters in the eighth to reach base. He hasn’t been able to transfer his Triple-A success this year to the majors, and likely will be on the move again.

The problem is Jackson and Jimenez are both without minor-league options (and Jimenez is still owed millions), so that pumps the brakes a little on the fairly successful Norfolk shuttle. That would be OK if Jackson proves he can be effective and Jimenez shows he can be trusted. But we’re not there yet.

So, what was the team’s biggest strength – the bullpen – is now a serious question mark with injuries and ineffectiveness shuffling roles.

If the rotation pitches deep each night – at least six innings like Dylan Bundy did Friday – that should alleviate some of the pressure on the bullpen. But, outside of Bundy, no starter has consistently absorbed innings this season. So, obviously, you can’t expect that.

And, suddenly, you can’t count on the Orioles bullpen to be shutdown, either.

That’s not a recipe for success. Either guys are going to step up – Wright, Bleier, maybe Jackson – or the Orioles are going to dig a serious hole until O’Day and Britton return.

Not a lot of gray area in between.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. speedbump210

    June 10, 2017 at 11:08 am

    With all the bad news in the rotation, bullpen, and lineup, it really is a wonder we are only 4.5 games out of first

    The Jackson experiment really shows how desperately we need pitching. He wasn’t getting the results in AAA and only got brought up because of an opt out. He has done about as expected for a guy on his 12th team. But if they move on quickly from him, as they should, there really isn’t a diamond in the rough awaiting. Maybe Chris Lee. Maybe. But maybe not. Perhaps this is not best time to bring up the fact that Ariel Miranda has a 3.74 ERA in 67 innings for the Mariners.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 10, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Any thoughts of throwing Tanner Scott to the wolves?

    Dan, aren’t you supposed to be out pounding the surf with Rodney? Maybe munching on some Boardwalk fries with the kids or something like that?

    • Mau

      June 10, 2017 at 10:12 pm

      O’s suck. What to do? Will be out of the race after this month. I think Wade Miley’s first inning last month is emblematic of the pitching staff right now. Laser shots drilling him twice. Had Judge hit Tilly tonight with his 121.1 missile he would have killed him.

  3. Ben1

    June 11, 2017 at 10:34 am

    nothing “sudden” but the injuries. All baseball folks have known our starting pitcher situation for a long time and thaf has to slowly dismantle and bull pen strengtg

  4. Osfan73

    June 11, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    Hope i’m wrong in the end but I believe the Os will be in a big hole by the time Britton and Oday return.
    As I write this we have just been swept in the Bronx yet again. Why? There are a couple other reasons but the obvious one was the atrocious pitching. (Dylan Bundy being the exception).
    A bad trend has developed lately in that we have been falling behind early and often even before our offense has a chance to do anything.
    The organization chose to spend its’ resources putting together a potent lineup-read offense. Nothing wrong with that and it has produced results in the way of winning seasons, a division title etc etc…..
    But IMO some of that has been at the expense of the pitching staff and it’s been laid bare by a good Yankee offense that produced 38 runs against us this series. We can’t be competitive much less contend pitching like this.
    I’m not suggesting a team teardown to supply a midseason yard sale, but perhaps a piece or two of it, and see what pitching we can get in return that way.

    • Mau

      June 12, 2017 at 10:43 pm

      They’ve always sold the farm. A yard sale couldn’t hurt. Keep Bundy, send everybody else to pasture.

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