Orioles keep using players in different roles in fourth straight win - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles keep using players in different roles in fourth straight win

The Orioles’ fourth straight victory, which equals their high-water mark in 2018, illustrated three ways the team has shown improvement in the season’s first week.

Andrew Cashner, who allowed six runs on six hits in just four innings on Opening Day, was much sharper in his second start, pitching six scoreless innings in the Orioles’ 2-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.

Cashner has been reunited with Doug Brocail, his pitching coach with the Texas Rangers in 2017. That was the year Cashner had a 3.40 ERA and earned a two-year contract with the Orioles.

Cashner, Dylan Bundy and Alex Cobb, who will start Thursday’s home opener, had disappointing seasons in 2018. Brocail’s steady hand and tough love could help all of them.

From 2010-18, the Orioles had six pitching coaches, and Bundy has already had four.

While pitchers are unlikely to complain publicly about the mixed messages received from multiple pitching coaches, it has to be confusing. The Orioles are counting on Brocail to bring stability and a unified approach throughout the organization.

Another early dividend are the contributions from those who have been added to the club.

Dwight Smith Jr., who was acquired from the Blue Jays on March 9, has been invaluable in the season’s first five games.

The 26-year-old had played just 47 major league games over the past two seasons with Toronto. He produced good numbers — a .293 batting average, .365 on-base percentage and .463 slugging percentage — but was cast asside last month when the Blue Jays needed roster space.


Smith has hit in each of the Orioles’ first five games, and has a .350 average.

General manager Mike Elias saw something in Smith that convinced him he could play every day.

The other early trend is putting players in different roles.

Miguel Castro, who became the fourth different pitcher to earn a save this season, was used as the closer by manager Brandon Hyde in Tuesday night’s win.

Last spring training, the Orioles decided to try Castro as a starter. Former manager Buck Showalter was enamored with his arm and thought that Castro could be a force. However, when Cobb was signed as a free agent in March 2018, Castro went back to the bullpen.

He did start the game before the All-Star break, but that was because Showalter was out of starters. Showalter labeled it a bullpen game instead of the opener concept.

Castro has had decent numbers with the Orioles, producing a 3.72 ERA in three seasons. He began his major league career with Toronto. As a 21-year-old reliever with the Blue Jays in 2015, he recorded the only four saves of his major league career — until Tuesday night.

Rowdy Tellez homered against Castro, but seeing the 24-year-old right-hander as a closer could be a sign of things to come. On the other hand, it could simply mean that the next time Castro pitches, it will be in a different role.

Wednesday afternoon, Nate Karns will be back in the opener role for the Orioles as they go for a sweep. Cashner’s six innings gave the Orioles’ bullpen just three innings to cover on Tuesday, which should help in the series finale.

With Mychal Givens, the assumed closer, yet to record a save, it’s likely that he’ll pitch in crucial situations if not necessarily in save situations. However, Hyde has been unpredictable in his bullpen use and as long as that’s successful, he’ll probably stick with it.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. OrioleBaaebal

    April 3, 2019 at 7:39 am

    We’re winning it all!!

    • Borg

      April 3, 2019 at 8:14 am

      They are so young–maybe they don’t realize they are supposed to be losing. There is a clear improvement in attitude in this team versus last year. Right out of the gate the 2018 version seemed to be going through the motions. It’s refreshing to watch players actually putting forth some effort. I am waiting for them to cut ties with Davis and Trumbo to make the turnover to a new team complete. Neither fits the concept of defense, clutch hitting, and speed. It is so painful to watch Davis continue to do what he has done for years-either stand with his bat on his shoulder for at least two of this three strikes, or be so far behind on his swing that all he produces is a weak fly ball to left center field.

      • Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

        April 3, 2019 at 10:56 am

        You nailed it on the head — the 2018 team seemed disinterested from the start.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    April 3, 2019 at 7:44 am

    Just run baby.

  3. Ekim

    April 3, 2019 at 8:00 am

    Just pray he doesn’t use Wright!

  4. Orial

    April 3, 2019 at 8:07 am

    Infield defense and Sucre’s leadership standout to me. A few little nitpicks if I’m allowed: it seems that every solid relief appearances they all have to give up a long ball before they wrap it up(2 run lead will be mandatory) and though I love Villar’s hustle and pop he seems to have careless tendencies both on base and in the field.

    • Camden Brooks

      April 3, 2019 at 8:51 am

      Sucre is so animated it is fun to watch.

      • Fareastern89

        April 3, 2019 at 9:38 am

        Does anyone miss Caleb Joseph? Or wish that Sisco were here? Sucre and Severino look like serious improvements — at least defensively — over the catching options the O’s had last year.

        • Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

          April 3, 2019 at 10:58 am

          I don’t care if I ever see Cisco catch another game, at this point. He looked dismal last year, and didn’t do enough defensively to head north with the team.

          Put him at 2B like Houston did with Biggio all those years ago, and see if he can be steady there. Getting the catching load off of him may also do wonders for his bat.

          • Jbigle1

            April 3, 2019 at 1:56 pm

            It’s a bit early to throw sisco to the wind. You’ve seen two journeymen catchers play 5 games. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

          • Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

            April 3, 2019 at 3:12 pm

            I’ll take defense at catcher every day. Unless Chance can develop into a MLB-average catcher, I’m fine with catchers like these guys.

  5. SpinMaster

    April 3, 2019 at 9:03 am

    I hate to throw water on this picnic of the opening of the season, but is anyone else concerned that Cedric Mullins is not hitting and really looks lost batting right handed? The top of our lineup has been nothing short of great after Mullins but he seems to have regressed in his development. I would like to see him try to bunt, slap the ball to left field (when he is batting left handed) or even take a walk just to get on base. I fear that he will start to press and that won’t be good for his becoming the lead-off man.

    • Ekim

      April 3, 2019 at 9:35 am

      I never bought into bringing Mullins up last year and so stated here a numbers of times. I reiterated it again this Spring. I watched him play at Bowie and noted that he was a streak hitter. When the “ streak” ended he would look completely lost at the plate. When he was called up he went on one of his “streaks” and then fell way off. He never even came close to having one during Spring training and, as everyone can see, he’s far from being a major league hitter right now. If there ever was someone who needed more time in the minors it’s Mullins!

      • Bancells Moustache

        April 3, 2019 at 12:48 pm

        He’s a solid defender, but Mullins is a platoon guy. He’s never been a strong right-handed hitter, and the bigs are not the place to learn how. The Orioles everyday Centerfielder is not yet on the team, maybe not in the organization, nor is the Roenicke to Mullins Lowenstein.

        • Jbigle1

          April 3, 2019 at 1:47 pm

          I don’t even think Mullins is that solid of a defender. He can run balls down but his arm is on the weak side. He’s a prototypical fourth outfielder to me. I think Joey Rickard is a better ball player at this point.

  6. Bhoffman1

    April 3, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Rich I have a question for you. If Davis continues like this say for half the season obviously he can’t play anymore. If management says you have a option to negotiate a buyout or sit on a bench for 3 1/2 years and hurt the club and embarrass yourself plus be remembered in history on this don’t you think he and his agent would want a buyout say for half his contract so he can spend the rest of his life more privileged and wealthy then 99 per cent of Americans.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      April 3, 2019 at 9:25 am

      C’mon BHoff … are you kidding?

      99 percent of Americans would gladly sit on the bench and “embarrass” themselves for $23.whatever million per year. Buyout-schmyout … the O’s put their pens to the paper just like he did. The Angelos family are the ones that should be embarrassed by hanging on to him. As Teddy KGB says .. “Pay dee man hees money”, and then move on.

    • Ekim

      April 3, 2019 at 9:38 am

      Can anyone tell me what the longest “0 fer” to open a season is? It looks like Davis is trying for the record. What a waste!

      • Rich Dubroff

        April 3, 2019 at 10:53 am

        Bob Buhl was 0-for-70 in 1962. He didn’t get a hit for the entire season.

    • Camden Brooks

      April 3, 2019 at 9:43 am

      Why in the world would his agent want him to negotiate a deal?

    • Bhoffman1

      April 3, 2019 at 10:40 am

      Look he has some pride left. No one wants to be remembered as the only player in MLB that’s was paid 23 mil a year to sit for three years and half years . It’s got to hurt him how he plays even though he puts that phony smile on his face. He has to face his teammates everyday knowing he is hurting them and keeping a qualified player on the bench. Maybe I’m naive but I think he would take the buyout

      • Borg

        April 3, 2019 at 11:05 am

        Why would he take a buyout? He isn’t going to walk away from the millions owed him just because you think he is embarrassed by his performance. Just cut him to free up a roster spot and pay him to go away. But make no mistake, he is getting paid–it’s called a contract and the Orioles are legally going to fulfill it. Nobody made them offer that amount so now they are stuck with it.

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 3, 2019 at 10:49 am

      Bruce, I have patiently answered this question from you seemingly scores of times. From now through the end of his contract, which includes deferred money through 2032, Chris Davis is owed $110 million. That is what he will collect. His agent is Scott Boras, the most powerful agent in baseball.

      The Orioles can release him, and he will get the money owed him. He can retire and forfeit money. He won’t. Boras and the Players Association won’t allow it.

      As I’ve told you many times before, there will be no buyout.

    • Bhoffman1

      April 3, 2019 at 11:03 am

      Ok got it. I remember reading somewhere that he said at one point last year if it continued he was thinking of retiring. Obviously the money helps but he’s gotta be hurting inside.

    • geevee3

      April 3, 2019 at 11:34 am

      What you are suggesting would be legally defined as breach of contract. If the O’s made such a proposal they would be making themselves vulnerable to an unfair labor practice charge that would cost them plenty above and beyond the original contractual agreement.

    • Bhoffman1

      April 3, 2019 at 11:43 am

      All you guys should be lawyers. If Chris is aware of your comments it would put a bigger smile on his face as he chats with opposing players on first base after another embarrassing trip to the plate

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        April 3, 2019 at 1:00 pm

        What would put an even bigger smile on his face is ignoring your silly suggestion of retiring and simploy collecting his checks.

      • Jbigle1

        April 3, 2019 at 1:51 pm

        He’s not walking away from 110 million and it’s angelos’ fault for opening up “Davis Money.” We all have to pay for our mistakes. This one was rather easy to see turning south for the birds. Perhaps Not this fast and not this bad but that deal was never going to be a good one. Davis will never give up a dollar the MLBPA would have a field day if he did. He’d Be remembered forever as the idiot who gave up his money. It’s not happening. Get it out of your head.

      • Jbigle1

        April 3, 2019 at 1:54 pm

        When trumbo comes back I hope that coincides with davis’ release. I don’t want any of these young guys sitting for Trumbo.

    • Ekim

      April 3, 2019 at 2:30 pm

      Rich… you cheated! Bull was a pitcher…

    • Ekim

      April 3, 2019 at 9:06 pm

      Buhl…damn AI!

      Here’s a thought “Mush” Davis… try and convert him to a pitcher. He dis pitch once and if my memory is correct he got through the inning. He could end up being a reverse of Ankiel.

  7. DevoTion

    April 3, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Obviously the O’s are off to a good start, unexpectedly. Hypothetically, Let’s say that they start the season 20-5, or something stupid crazy like that, and keep it up through May. Obviously people would start getting excited about the team. Would that be a problem because management doesn’t want to win this year and could it throw off the plans that have been set up for the next few years? I know it’s very unlikely for that to happen, but it would make for an interesting season, just to see how the front office would handle that

    • Bhoffman1

      April 3, 2019 at 12:14 pm

      I think they want to win but didn’t envision it happening with this squad. A five hundred season would be a miracle and once we see Hays and Sisco on this team plus a pitcher or two it could get very exciting.

    • Raymo

      April 3, 2019 at 12:59 pm

      Even if they start 20-5, by the end of the season they will regress to reality and finish in fourth or last place. But it sure would be fun for a few glorious months.

      • Bancells Moustache

        April 3, 2019 at 1:22 pm

        I don’t think the team playing well would be disastrous for the future. Yeah, they fall out of the number 1 slot, but this ain’t the NBA. There is no Zion Williamson out there, so picking around the top of the draft still nets you a good player (Trout went 25 if you’ll recall). And there is no way that, should the O’s be miraculously in striking distance of second wild card fools gold in July, Elias actually goes into buy mode. That silly participation trophy designed to boost TV ratings is what doomed Duquette. But what we are talking about would be essentially the most shocking Cinderella story of the last 50 years, so it doesn’t matter.

  8. Bancells Moustache

    April 3, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    Fellas, I love all of ya, but you’ve lost your collective minds. Jesus Sucre is not the Latino Mickey Cochrane, Chris Davis is not going to say “take back the 160 mil, I don’t deserve it” and this team is bad.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      April 3, 2019 at 1:02 pm

      “You are what your record says your are!” (I’ll come back in 2 weeks to revisit this one)

    • Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

      April 3, 2019 at 3:16 pm

      Let folks enjoy a week of nice baseball. No reasonable fan is cancelling their October vacations in anticipation of the playoffs.

      And no reasonable person expects CD to walk away from $100 million smackeroonies.

  9. BirdsCaps

    April 3, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    It’s official the Orioles even suck at losing. Build a team to tank and they somehow win.

  10. willmiranda

    April 3, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    This is fun, and we should rack up as many wins as we can because they all count the same at
    the end of the year. But we have been playing against two uninspired opponents, one team looking to October and the other as feckless as we have been. Beat them by all means, but we’d better be ready for payback from the Bronx. Will there be more blue and white than orange and black at the stadium this weekend?

  11. Bhoffman1

    April 3, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    Mullins hitting 063 with a worse on base percentage then Davis who had a good day today only struck out once so far. Are you telling me Hays in center would not be a upgrade.

  12. Bhoffman1

    April 3, 2019 at 6:39 pm

    Well Rich someone must have been listening to me. They finally realized it wasn’t worth it to keep Araujo. Who is this Wotherspoon. I guess Scott, Carroll and Phillips didn’t pitch well enough this spring. Lol

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 3, 2019 at 7:38 pm

      Matt Wotherspoon was often brought to games as an extra pitcher. When a pitcher exceeded his pitch limit, he was brought in and performed creditably. Carroll is injured. Scott didn’t pitch well, and I expect to see Phillips relatively soon.

    • Bhoffman1

      April 3, 2019 at 7:57 pm

      He will probably be sent down when Cobb is activated. As it turns out with Mancini 3 run clout we could have been in this game. Anyway getting rid of Aruajo showed me Elias is not going to waste a spot on the 40 man roster for players with no future

  13. afterp

    April 4, 2019 at 10:22 am

    I really like the approach of having Givens for the highest leverage situations. Why have your best bullpen pitcher designated only to pitch the 9th? If 4-5-6 are due up in a tight game in the 8th, bring him in and let the next guy handle 7-8-9 in the 9th.

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