With Britton gone, Orioles face closer question - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

With Britton gone, Orioles face closer question

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

BALTIMORE—Now that Zach Britton is off to New York, Buck Showalter has to find a new closer. Even though the Orioles have had relatively few games to close this season, the job is still a critical one.

On Tuesday night when word came down that Britton was about to be traded, Showalter kept him out of the game and used Brad Brach to close instead.

Brach, who also might be traded ahead of the July 31 non-waiver deadline, has the most career saves, 32, with 11 of them coming this season.

Darren O’Day, who is on the 60-day disabled list after hamstring surgery, has 21 saves.

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Mychal Givens, who recorded his first save May 12, and Tanner Scott, one of two remaining left-handers on the staff, also could close.

Showalter said that because Britton didn’t pitch until June 12 after Achilles/ tendon surgery, it allowed him to contemplate his alternatives.

“It wasn’t something that we’re not experienced at because we operated a lot of this season without Zach,” Showalter said. “I’ll look at our options each night.”

Scott, who was mentored by Britton, prepared himself.

“We all knew it was going happen,” Scott said as he stood at his locker, which adjoined Britton’s, which is now empty.

“He was a great guy. Now, we’ve got to face him on a different team. He’s helped me out a lot. He’s been awesome.

“I’ve always had my locker next to him…He’d always help out, tell me what to work on, what to do, and how to approach hitters and go out there and pitch.”

The other remaining left-hander, Paul Fry, who joined the team June 29, also benefited from his presence.

“I got to learn a little bit of his mindset, his leadership, the way he attacks, the way he focuses during the games,” Fry said.

“We’re going to miss him here — for sure his leadership in the bullpen.”

Britton’s departure could mean Fry, who has been impressive in his first 11 games, could assume a more prominent role as a left-hander.

“We didn’t really consider him a left-hander,” Fry said. “We considered him the closer.”

Word reached Britton and his teammates during a sixth-inning rain delay Tuesday night. When play resumed, Britton rejoined the other relievers in the bullpen.

“It was kind of like, is this going to be his last time out there?” Fry said. “Is he out here because he wants to live it still? I was excited to share the bullpen with him. I was glad to call him a teammate.”

To take Britton’s place on the roster, the Orioles recalled David Hess from Triple-A Norfolk.

Murray’s back

Earlier this month, Orioles great Brooks Robinson announced he was rejoining the organization as a special adviser. Now, Robinson is joined by Eddie Murray, who played 13 seasons with the team.

Murray said that in his job, he’ll advise Executive Vice President John Angelos and his brother, Lou. The Angelos brothers have taken a greater role in running the team in recent months.

Murray’s duties are expected to be mostly off-field, but he did say he would be at spring training and could work with minor leaguers.

Murray said he hoped he could somehow improve the team’s performance.

“I’m not saying it’s broke, but it’s pretty close,” Murray said. “They’re not playing very well and, hopefully, I can come in and maybe add something.”

The Hall of Famer had breakfast with John Angelos, and liked what he heard.

“He was letting me know there was definitely going to be a change made here,” Murray said. “This is their chance to shine, also, and they would really like to get this … turned around. There’s no doubt. It made it easy.”

Murray likes the challenge.

“I think we’ve got to get back to really, like, basics,” Murray said. “What we used to do here in Baltimore, it was really, really defense. We’ve got to start at that bottom line right there, learning how to catch the ball, learning how to make the plays. And you start from there. And you play for each other.”

Orioles-Red Sox postponed

The Orioles game with the Boston Red Sox was postponed on Wednesday night. Time was called with two outs in the top of the second with Boston leading 5-0. After a wait of two hours, 33 minutes, the game was called. The statistics don’t count.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Borg

    July 26, 2018 at 6:42 am

    The Orioles have the luxury of giving somebody like Scott an extended stint at closer in the sure knowledge that nothing means anything the rest of the year other than evaluating players for the future. I just hope Showalter lets whoever it is have three or four weeks of closing and doesn’t pull the trigger because of one or two bad outings.

    Great move PR-wise getting Robinson and Murray back in the fold. Is Ripken on that list of former O’s coming back to turn this thing around? I think next year will see attendance back up even if the record isn’t very good IF the fans feel the corner has been turned and there is some actual plan in place to get competitive again. Watching younger players and developing a new philosophy would go a long way towards restoring faith in the team.

  2. Rich Dubroff

    July 26, 2018 at 8:32 am

    Borg, I think you’re right about giving Scott a chance. I think Showalter will delicately balance trying him and others out in the role, but won’t yank him after a bad outing or two.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Ripken was back with the organization, too, but don’t know if it’s forthcoming.

    As for attendance, the weather has been brutal. Five rainouts at home. Attendance is something I’ll be sure to write about in detail in the coming weeks. Weekend attendance hasn’t been bad, but Monday-Thursday nights have been.

  3. 54orioles

    July 26, 2018 at 8:54 am

    Having closer question is nothing new for the last year. Britton has played very little and it should have been obvious that Brach was not the guy. His success was in the set up role. MY guess is that he returns to his old form once he is put back in his old role. The entire bullpen will be better. It’s a personality thing. It takes a special person to want to carry this type of pressure. At this point, just go with match ups.

  4. OsfansinWV

    July 26, 2018 at 9:08 am

    Maybe the should start doing what Tampa does. Start the bull pen guys and bring in starter in 5th inning or so. They apparently are doing something a little better than the O’s! Can’t hurt…

  5. LenSakata

    July 26, 2018 at 9:55 am

    What are we worried about a closer? How often are we in a position to need one?

    • Borg

      July 26, 2018 at 10:30 am

      Not often now, but it is something that needs to be addressed eventually. I used to be of the opinion that any effective relief pitcher could be a closer. Brach disabused me of that notion. But good closers do seem to come out of nowhere-Britton was a starter before closing, and I think Mariano Rivera was as well. Dennis Eckersley and John Schmoltz also made that transition, so there might be one in the system now and all it takes is the opportunity. There won’t be a lot of closing situations,but there will be plenty of pressure points where it could be used as a test to see how the pitcher holds up.

    • 54orioles

      July 26, 2018 at 11:26 am

      Good point……close what a chance to win

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