Brandon Hyde will mix and match lineups and closers for Orioles - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Brandon Hyde will mix and match lineups and closers for Orioles

Brandon Hyde
Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

NEW YORK—As Orioles manager Brandon Hyde made out his lineup for the third game of the season, it was radically different from the ones in the first two games.

That’s nothing new for either Hyde or the Orioles. Both the Chicago Cubs, for whom Hyde served as bench coach last year, and the Orioles each used 152 different batting orders in 2018, albeit with radically different results.

Trey Mancini, who was the designated hitter in Thursday’s opener and the first baseman on Saturday, was the right fielder for just the third time in his career, and the first since August 28, 2017.

Mancini batted third, as he did Thursday, though he hit fourth in Saturday’s game. Joey Rickard, who played right field in the first two games, batting sixth and fifth, was back in the sixth hole. Mancini, Rickard and Renato Nunez, the designated hitter who was batting fourth, each homered in the Orioles’ 7-5 victory in a game delayed by 3 hours and 17 minutes by rain.

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“I’m going to match up and move guys around,” Hyde said. “Today was a little bit of Mancini playing with a little smaller park out there in right, [Dwight Smith Jr.] being more comfortable in left. He’s played there more in his career, Trey is just as comfortable in right field.”

“…I don’t know Trey that great yet. I’m still trying to figure a lot of things out. Right now where our roster is, he’s going to play in multiple spots.”

Smith has been the one constant in the lineup. He’s batted second and played left field in the first three games. He had two hits, including a double, in Sunday’s win that gave the Orioles an opening series victory.

Hyde says he’ll be experimenting until he sees a lineup he’s comfortable with.

“I’m not going to see guys play all over like spring training,” Hyde said. “This is more of what we feel like from a matchup standpoint to help us win today. We feel like this is the best combination defensively for Dylan [Bundy], for the ballpark factors, for a lot of things.”

Shortly after taking over as Orioles general manager last fall, Mike Elias sent an email to season ticketholders, naming Bundy, Mancini, Mychal Givens and Cedric Mullins as franchise building blocks.

Mullins led off in the opener, was used as a pinch-hitter on Saturday, and wasn’t in Sunday’s lineup, coming in late as a defensive replacement. There was an assumption the switch-hitter would play regularly, but he didn’t start against Yankees left-handers James Paxton and J.A. Happ.

“He’s still working on his right-handed swing,” Hyde said. “He’s shown a lot of progress in that. He’s going to get right-handed at-bats. I just want to get Smitty back in there.”

“This isn’t a set deal, left, right situation. I’m going to be doing it on matchups. It’s a good chance he’ll play the next three days in Toronto. Everybody’s going to play. Everybody’s going to get at-bats.”

Pedro Severino, who was acquired by the Orioles on March 23 and played only in the March 25 Grapefruit League finale, caught Sunday’s game after Jesus Sucre started the first two games.

Closing is another area that’s fluid at the moment. In Saturday’s game, Hyde brought in Givens for the eighth with a two-run lead. After navigating through a scoreless inning, the Orioles scored two runs in the top of the ninth to take a 5-1 lead.

Richard Bleier began the ninth, ran into trouble, and Mike Wright rescued him and recorded the last two outs of the game, earning his first major league save. On Sunday, Paul Fry earned a save by striking out Troy Tulowitzki for the final out after Givens struggled in 1 2/3 innings of work.

For the future, Hyde is vague about whom he’ll use to close.

“As of right now, we’re trying to win the game,” Hyde said. “Whoever is closing in the ninth inning, we’re trying to compete with whoever that is.”

“It might change over the course of a year. I’m not really sure. It might be a guy that steps in and all of a sudden, I just want him to pitch the ninth inning, but as of right now, we’re going to try to piece it together the best way we can and whoever gets the save that night, that’s who it is.

“There are certain guys that I’m going to use in big spots against the meat of their orders. ..But when it comes to a lockdown closer right now, we’re not there yet. We don’t have [Aroldis] Chapman. We don’t have [Mariano] Rivera. We don’t have Brandon Morrow. We don’t have those types of guys that we’re going to throw in the ninth inning. It’s going to be fluid as we go along. Maybe someone sticks into it. Right now, it’s interchangeable.”

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Jbigle1

    March 31, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    No but we have Mychal Givens who is far and away our best reliever. there’s no one else on this team who can close. As I type this Hyde is bringing givens back in with his elevated pitch count so it appears he really feels the same way.

    • Jbigle1

      March 31, 2019 at 8:10 pm

      Hyde can’t expect to ride Givens like this. That’s probably our best trade piece out there. We certainly can’t have him throwing 50 pitches a night. He’s going to have to find someone else he trusts for the 8th or 9th if he wants to mix and match. It’s probably hard for him because he‘s really the only true trusted arm down there. Our old friend Mike Wright is the guy who has the stuff to do it. But that’s a scary proposition.

    • Bhoffman1

      April 1, 2019 at 8:51 am

      Jbigle, I know this is a rebuild but you have to rebuild around some key players without wiping out the whole team. Givens should be stay.

      • Jbigle1

        April 1, 2019 at 7:42 pm

        You don’t build around a 29 year old reliever. He’s our best trade chip.

        • Jbigle1

          April 1, 2019 at 10:24 pm

          I think Mancini is our best bet for a foundational piece out of this current club.

    • Bhoffman1

      April 2, 2019 at 12:02 am

      Oh 29 just reaching your prime with at least 4 or 5 more years is old. So I guess we will be rebuilding that long

  2. CalsPals

    March 31, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    Givens is scary too, not very mentally tough, he is our best, but a closer that’s era last yr was 3.5 & higher, not really a closer….

    • Jbigle1

      March 31, 2019 at 8:50 pm

      Givens career ERA is in the low 3’s and the advanced metrics peg him about right there. We’re use to the dominant Zach Britton so I think anything that isn’t like that seems to be a huge letdown but I like givens. He’s a closer. Not a top tier guy but he’s the only guy I trust with the ball in the 9th.

  3. Hallbe62

    March 31, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    Birds WIN ! O’s WIN 3-GAME SERIES vs. Big Bad Yankees !!

    • ButchBird59

      March 31, 2019 at 9:40 pm

      Two games ahead of the Red Sox in the loss column! 🙂

  4. Eldersburg Enigma

    March 31, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    Long day in the Bronx. We appreciate your hanging in there, Rich!

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 31, 2019 at 10:25 pm

      Enigma, I have to tell the truth. I had an 8 p.m. train, so I wasn’t there at the end.

  5. Raymo

    March 31, 2019 at 10:19 pm

    The O’s had to throw 226 pitches in that game. Givens threw 50 in less than 2 innings. There were too many full counts and too many bases-loaded situations. It’s not sustainable.

    • Bhoffman1

      April 1, 2019 at 8:53 am

      Close calls were going against the Birds. That’s what happens when you play in the Stadium against superstars and you have no names on your side

  6. Tony Paparella

    April 1, 2019 at 10:14 am

    Great weekend from my standpoint anytime you beat them Yankees.More so though for the morale of the team, organization,and us devoted fans.Good to taste victory when you are defined as the “UNDERBIRDS” (dogs,lol) by a lot of people.Thats my new battle call for the year.I agree with others is it will be hard to win games the way they have the past couple days but it also shows this team can stay with the fight.I believe Hyde brought Givens in the 8th inning because the heart of the lineup was batting and just stuck with him hoping he could retire the sides again in the 9th.He is still learning tp pitch in those situations and I am not counting him out.I will say a lot of these pitchers are surprising me because they had some pretty sloppy outings righjt up to the end of spring training.One thing I would like to see is Hyde sticking with Smith as he is showing a lot of promise and I believe can become a good player.I also like, as I said before,that he is not handing any job to anybody at this point and that bolds well for the players to give it their all.I say that even though I think Hyde is giving the shortstop job to Martin for a long extended period of time to see if he can play at this caliber.That seems to be the only guy he is staying with at this time.So far most of Hydes moves are working and everyone contributing and let’s hope this continues.

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