On the last day to acquire players that can be used in the postseason, the Orioles made a move Wednesday afternoon aimed at improving the club’s bullpen for the stretch run.
The Orioles sent minor-league left-hander Zach Phillips, 29, to the Pittsburgh Pirates for 27-year-old lefty Kyle Lobstein, who had been designated for assignment Tuesday.
To make room for Lobstein on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated lefty Ashur Tolliver, 28, for assignment. Tolliver had allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings this season for the Orioles. Phillips had a 4.45 ERA at Triple-A Norfolk and hadn’t pitched for the Orioles in 2016.
In essence, this series of moves means the club potentially gave up two lefty relievers for one. But Lobstein is a little younger than the other two and has had some success getting out lefties in the majors.
A former second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, Lobstein was 2-0 with a 3.96 ERA in 14 games with the Pirates this year and 1-3 with a 4.11 ERA in 19 games (six starts) with Triple-A Indianapolis.
Most important for the Orioles, left-handed hitters were just 2-for-24 (.083 average) against Lobstein in his time with the Pirates this season.
The Orioles have been looking for an effective left-handed specialist all year. Lobstein will be given a chance to handle that role – and another lefty, Brian Duensing, should be back from injury in early September.
Rookie Donnie Hart also will be in the competition to be the club’s primary left-handed specialist as the playoffs near. All three would be postseason eligible.
If the Orioles acquire someone from outside the organization after 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, that player would not be postseason eligible.
Once again, this is a typical, under-the-radar move by Dan Duquette in August. It may mean nothing, or it may be the addition of a fairly important bullpen piece.
The flip side is Phillips was not in the club’s plans this year or in the future, so the risk is minimal.