Brandon Hyde has shown a different managing style than Buck Showalter -

Paul Folkemer

Brandon Hyde has shown a different managing style than Buck Showalter

Brandon Hyde’s Orioles managerial career is all of nine games old. It’s way too early to draw sweeping conclusions about his managerial style.

With that said…let’s do exactly that.

Hyde has had his share of triumphs and missteps, like any manager. In the early going, though, Hyde’s style has been a contrast to the man he replaced, Buck Showalter, who managed the team from 2010-18.

Here’s a look at a few things Hyde has done differently:

A more conservative approach with starting pitchers

Through the first nine games, one Hyde trend has become clear: He’d rather pull a starting pitcher too early than too late.

Hyde, for the most part, has avoided letting his pitchers face the meat of the opposing lineup a third time around. And there’s statistical evidence to justify his decision, because pitchers normally become less effective the more often they face opposing hitters. Last year, major league starting pitchers held batters to a .239 average and .700 OPS the first time they faced them in a game, and a .251/.731 mark the second time through. Once the lineup turned over a third time, though, the advantage shifted to the hitters. Batters hit .265 with a .784 OPS on their third look at a pitcher.

The 2018 Orioles fell victim to that pitfall. Not that their league-worst starting staff was particularly effective at any turn through the lineup, but they were exponentially worse the third time through. Orioles starters allowed a .264 average and .783 OPS the first time through the lineup, .284/.851 the second time and a brutal .320/.974 a third time.

In many cases, Showalter gave his pitchers the benefit of the doubt in the critical middle innings, trying to coax a few extra outs from his starter to avoid overtaxing the bullpen. Sometimes, the gamble worked. Often, it didn’t, causing games to get out of hand because a tired starter couldn’t retire batters the third time through the order.


Hyde, so far, has been quicker with the trigger finger. No Orioles starter has pitched three full turns through the order, with Andrew Cashner’s 24 batters faced in Toronto on April 2 the team high. With relievers such as Jimmy Yacabonis and John Means capable of covering multiple innings, Hyde is more willing to turn to his bullpen early, before the starters reach the danger zone.

Hyde’s early hooks, though, have brought mixed results. At Yankee Stadium March 31, Hyde pulled Dylan Bundy with a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning, just as the Yankees’ lineup was coming up for a third time (Bundy’s pitch count of 93 made that a somewhat easy decision). The Yankees rallied, but the fresh arm of Means was effective as he worked 3 1/3 innings of one-run ball en route to a 7-5 Orioles win.

But in the Orioles’ home opener last Thursday, Hyde may have pushed the bullpen button too soon. Starter Alex Cobb had pitched well, allowing two runs in 5 2/3 innings, and carried a 4-2 lead in the sixth. He had faced four Yankees hitters for a third time when Hyde removed him from the game. Mike Wright imploded in relief, giving up four hits and three runs, and the Yankees took a lead they never relinquished. Cobb’s pitch count of 87 played a role in Hyde’s decision to take him out, but had he stayed in for another batter or two, perhaps the Yankees’ rally would have been stifled, or at least delayed.

Hyde also removed David Hess in the seventh inning April 1 while he was pitching a no-hitter. Hess had faced only two Blue Jays hitters more than twice that game. Again, pitch count may have been a bigger factor in Hess’ removal than the third-time-through-the-lineup curse; Hess had thrown 124 pitches in the first five days of the season. Still, the decision was second-guessed, especially when the Orioles’ bullpen nearly blew a 6-0 lead and barely escaped with a 6-5 victory.

It’s impossible to say how any of these games would have turned out if Hyde had left his starters in a little longer. Wins could have turned into losses, or losses into wins, or maybe nothing would have changed at all.

A bullpen-by-committee strategy

Coming into the season, one of the few certainties in the Orioles’ bullpen — or so we thought — was that veteran right-hander Mychal Givens would reprise his late-2018 role as the club’s closer.

Yeah, uh…about that.

In the Orioles’ four wins this season, four different relievers registered a save. And none of them was Givens.

Wright and Richard Bleier each picked up his first career save. Paul Fry registered his third, and Miguel Castro his fifth (but his first since April 23, 2015 with Toronto).

Givens, meanwhile, was used in more of a fireman role. In each of his first three outings, he was brought in in the eighth inning rather than the ninth. Twice he pitched into the ninth but was replaced mid-inning.

As Rich Dubroff wrote, Hyde’s bullpen use has been unpredictable. To this point, no reliever seems to have one particular role or one specific inning to cover. Wright has entered one game in the fifth, two in the sixth, one in the eighth and one in the ninth. Fry has pitched the seventh, eighth and ninth. Bleier has appeared as early as the fifth and as late as the ninth; Castro, the sixth and the ninth.

Again, Hyde’s approach is a departure from that of Showalter, who preferred to slot his relievers into strict, clearly defined roles. He subscribed to the idea that relievers tend to perform best when they know which innings they’ll be pitching. During the Orioles’ successful stretch from 2012-16, the Orioles had one pitcher each year with at least 36 saves, and never more than three pitchers with multiple saves. That structured bullpen approach was a success, for the most part. The Orioles’ bullpen finished third or better in the AL in ERA for four of those five years, including a league-best 3.40 mark in 2016.

Showalter’s adherence to strict bullpen roles, though, was also the source of his biggest managerial blunder. In the 2016 Wild Card game in Toronto, Showalter refused to bring in closer Zach Britton at any point of the 11-inning affair, waiting for a save situation that never came. The rest is history, as Ubaldo Jimenez and the Orioles lost a walkoff that ended their season while their best pitcher never made an appearance.

Hyde, so far, has promoted bullpen flexibility, not wanting to paint himself into a corner by assigning rigid roles. After all, the goal of any pitcher should be to get batters out, no matter the inning or situation in which they’re appearing. Still, some relievers don’t respond well to not knowing when they’re going to pitch. It’ll be interesting to see if Hyde continues his mix-and-match bullpen style all season, or if he’ll shift to a more organized structure once he has a better idea of his relievers’ skills.

No allegiance to the old guard

Hyde, who was hired as manager December 14, has been with the Orioles less than four months. And while that means he’s still familiarizing himself with the organization, it also means he doesn’t feel undue attachment to players from the Showalter era. He can examine them with fresh eyes and a new perspective, playing them — or not playing them — as he sees fit.

The most significant holdover from the previous administration, of course, is embattled first baseman Chris Davis. Davis enjoyed his most productive seasons under Showalter, earning the manager’s respect and loyalty. But that loyalty may have torpedoed Showalter, Davis and the Orioles in 2018.

As Davis spiraled toward one of the worst individual seasons in MLB history last year, Showalter steadfastly stuck with the longtime Oriole throughout his struggles. Davis racked up 522 plate appearances, third most on the team. Yes, Davis was benched for a couple of stretches — including a week in June, and the final eight games of the year — but when he was in the lineup, he was usually parked in the middle of it. The majority of Davis’ starts (73 out of 127) came as the No. 5 hitter. As late in the season as August 27, when Davis was hitting .167 with a .557 OPS, Showalter penciled him into the cleanup spot.

Further, not once during the 2018 season was Davis lifted for a pinch-hitter, even against tough lefties late in games. Perhaps Showalter didn’t want to embarrass the veteran by so publicly removing him from a game, or maybe he wasn’t enthused with the club’s bench options. The skipper, though, wasn’t doing his team any favors by continuing to treat Davis as an everyday, middle-of-the-order slugger, when his performance proved he was anything but.

Under Hyde, Davis has been hidden further down in the lineup, when he’s in it at all. Hyde benched Davis in the second game of the season against tough Yankee lefty James Paxton, then again Saturday versus southpaw J.A. Happ. When Davis has started, he’s batted seventh in the lineup each time. Last year, Davis made only 18 starts as low as the No. 7 slot. And Hyde hasn’t hesitated to pinch-hit for Davis late in games against lefties, doing so in both the Orioles’ season opener and their home opener.

The change in the batting order hasn’t helped Davis get on track. He’s hitless in his first 27 plate appearances, striking out 13 times. Hyde, so far, has publicly supported Davis, as a manager should do. But it’s clear he’s not giving the first baseman as prominent a role as Showalter did, instead looking for ways to alleviate the pressure on Davis as he tries to turn things around. And if he doesn’t turn things around soon, Hyde likely won’t hesitate to cut his playing time.



  1. baseballed

    April 8, 2019 at 7:29 am

    Why not ask Manager Hyde if you either put davis batting first or where he bats in the lineup let him try bunting to build confidence in his ability to hit the ball. It would be a different approach. Why is it we are not seeing our players bunt more or putting down the bunt and steal more often. With the speed we have with those players would make for an run producing team.

    • Paul Folkemer

      April 8, 2019 at 9:19 am

      Davis hasn’t shown much interest in bunting. He’s gone basically his whole career without doing it, and it’s not an easy skill to pick up this late into your career. I agree that it would be worth his while to try to learn. At this point, try anything.

  2. Mikepete73

    April 8, 2019 at 7:46 am

    I was Hoping that with a new regime i had seen the last of a showalter favorite mike Wright. but nope Hyde seems to like this guy who shouldn’t even be pitching in independent ball. davis and Wright have to be cut immediately. we are gonna lose drew Jackson to waivers so Witherspoon could make 1 appearance then he too was dropped off the 40 man. not a smart move.

    • Baltimore Castaway

      April 8, 2019 at 8:21 am

      Hyde has to find out certain things for himself. It won’t be long after yesterday’s fiasco for him to have a shorter leash on Wright or for Elias to do something about him (like release him)..

    • Djowen

      April 8, 2019 at 8:27 am

      Jackson wasn’t put on waivers for Wotherspoon. He was put on for Cobb. they just did it a day early and brought Wotherspoon up for a day because they needed an arm.

    • OrioleBaaebal

      April 8, 2019 at 8:29 am

      Not even, he was put on waivers for Straily

      • Djowen

        April 8, 2019 at 9:23 am

        No Jackson was waived for Strailey.

    • Paul Folkemer

      April 8, 2019 at 9:22 am

      It’s not every day you see a pitcher who has nearly 100 appearances in the majors and an almost 6.00 career ERA. Wright is at 96 and 5.99.

      I understand why Elias and his staff wanted to make their own assessments of Orioles players, particularly one like Wright who has good raw stuff. I think we’ll start to see some changes made over the coming weeks as the front office determines which players might be useful and which won’t.

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    April 8, 2019 at 7:49 am

    To make any kind of judgement on Hyde as a manager is ridiculous. But if I must, I like his style. He’s doing the best with what he has. Minus the beer in hand, he’s like Matthau managing the Bad News Bears minus having an Amanda or Kelly on the roster.

    So, harkening back to last week’s diner question, I’m wondering just how excited everybody still is for this team? Do y’all still love all the changes? Still think that having our best hitters in Norfolk is the way to go?

    This sucks .. and it’s going to continue all year long boys. Tanking at it’s finest. And it’s simply not necessary. I’d must rather watch Sisco, Hays, Mountcastle, Santander and crew lose 100 than this group of bums.

    And I’m betting that Hyde has no say in it.

    • Baltimore Castaway

      April 8, 2019 at 8:27 am

      Do you really think that having Cisco, Hays et all up here now would have changed the outcome of the Yankees series??

      This is the hard part of beginning a rebuild for this franchise that Messers Angelos, Duquette and Showalter presented to the team’s fanbase and new Management…

      To complain about who is playing most every day at this point is going to be a waste of time.

      As for tanking; they would be picking 11th in the 2020 Amateur Draft if the season ended today…we have a long and bumpy race to the bottom for a high pick in the 2020 draft. The Orioles aren’t the only team in this situation..

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        April 8, 2019 at 9:24 am

        Yo BC … read my full entry … specifically this line …. “I’d must rather watch Sisco, Hays, Mountcastle, Santander and crew lose 100 than this group of bums. ”

        So NO… I don’t think they would have made a difference this past weekend.

        But I do believe they (the minor leaguers) are better than the short term lineup that’s currently playing. They are the future. Let the young talent learn to hit MLB pitching now .. let’s see what they have. It’s one thing to bring along players through the system when you have talent at the top level, it’s quite another when you don’t.

    • Djowen

      April 8, 2019 at 8:40 am

      Stewart and Sisco are at .100. Diaz at .167. Santander is .200. Mountcastle is at a whopping .250. There is a reason they aren’t up yet.

      • SpinMaster

        April 8, 2019 at 9:16 am

        It is tough watching this team right now, but there is no help on the farm right now. I don’t want Hayes, Sisco, Santander, or others to be up struggling against the Yankees, Red Sox, etal and destroy any confidence they may have. Leave them in Norfolk and let them become AAA standouts and then bring them up.
        Remember, these are our prospects that the previous administration drafted and developed (?) In my mind, if we had drafted and developed correctly in the recent past, those 2013, 2014 and 2015 top draft choices would be pressing our management to be in the bigs. They aren’t doing that right now so leave them where they are.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        April 8, 2019 at 9:26 am

        They haven’t even been playing for one week. And I never mentioned Stewart or Diaz.

      • Jbigle1

        April 8, 2019 at 10:09 am

        Mountcastle doesn’t even have a defensive position yet. His bat has gotten him this far and even that is probably not major league ready. I would’ve liked to see Sisco up but that’s about it. Hays is hurt and coming off a terrible year. And I can’t fathom why you think Anthony Santander is big league ready. He hasn’t hit anywhere since coming to Baltimore.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          April 8, 2019 at 10:26 am

          Santander tore up Bowie in 17. Mountcastle can play 1st or DH. And what is Major Leauge Ready mean? Nobody hits major leauge pitching until they adjust, and the only way to adjust is to see it. The rest of the league is playing their 22 year olds, why not us? It’s called tanking.

          • VICTORTEE

            April 9, 2019 at 9:02 am



      April 8, 2019 at 9:10 am

      I agree with most of what you say, but do you really think Hyde has much, if any, say in how the pitchers are used? I am sure the Boy Genius has told him not to let starters go through the lineup a third time. I have read various places that is one of the “rules” of analytics unless the
      starter is a real veteran stud.

      • Jbigle1

        April 8, 2019 at 10:22 am

        Bro, can you just drop the Schtick? If you’re going to come on here everyday insulting Elias it’s going to be a long couple of years for you. It makes no difference if Dan was still running things right now, this team would still be futile. Why don’t you actually give him a chance before you start screaming at him? You’ll feel better that way I’m pretty sure of that. He didn’t run the orioles into the ground.

        • VICTORTEE

          April 9, 2019 at 9:08 am

          I committed HERESY!!! I criticized the Boy Genius! Who has NEVER been the top guy and never made any decisions.

          Keep drinking the Orange Kool Aid. How many years before I am allowed to criticize him.

          And I have a philosophical opposition to Tanking. It is legal but unethical in my opinion.
          The A’s and Rays have no $ but they try to win as many games as they can each year by being creative. I hope you like 100+ losses for 3 or 4 years minimum.

    • Paul Folkemer

      April 8, 2019 at 12:42 pm

      I think it’s a safe bet we’ll see Sisco, Hays, Mountcastle, Santander, and a bunch of others from the minors at some point in 2019, when Elias and staff deem them ready. The Orioles roster we’re seeing right now is not the same one we’ll see at the end of the year. It’s going to gradually get younger — and better — throughout the season.

    • Camden Brooks

      April 8, 2019 at 1:45 pm

      I too am tired of the “Boy Genius” insults. So he sent down a few players you wanted to stay in town….get over it already.

      • Stacey

        April 8, 2019 at 2:09 pm

        How about Man Genius? Silver Fox Genius?

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        April 8, 2019 at 3:08 pm

        Go get ’em Stacy.

        And Camden … since you’re commenting on my thread, I’d just like to point out to you that I never used the term “Boy Genius”, so I must take exception when you tell me to get over it. It’s just that I take exception when people tell us they’re creating an atmosphere of competition on the team, and yet they demote the players that clearly won the spring training competition.


        April 9, 2019 at 9:10 am

        And I am tired of all the people who say we MUST trust a guy who has NEVER been the top guy and NEVER made a decision before.

        • Borg

          April 11, 2019 at 5:39 am

          Boston and Chicago trusted Epstein when he had never been in charge–how’d that work out for them? EVERYBODY has to have a first year at something because at some point it is…you know…their first year.

    • Camden Brooks

      April 8, 2019 at 5:43 pm

      Boog, I wasn’t referring to you. I put “Boy Genius” in quotes for a reason.

  4. Orial

    April 8, 2019 at 8:28 am

    All the differences between Hyde and Buck have lead to the same results. It seems Hyde is trying the correct pitching approach but Buck knew the results–a terrible bullpen. Hyde doesnt want to tax the starters,Buck didn’t want to tax the bullpen. They’re both correct,in their thinking. Problem is that under both scenarios the bullpen is dreadful. Not too sure about Means being made the latest starter. With an almost gaurantee that you’ll be in your bullpen by the 5th having the Means/Fry combo was invaluable. It’s nice to see Means get this shot but he’s only gonna 4 innings anyway. If I had to pick a side on the pitching debate I’d go with Buck’s–try to make them go 6 innings and I don’t think have to explain why(Wright,Castro)?

    • Jbigle1

      April 8, 2019 at 10:11 am

      Buck had a great bullpen nearly every single year. This BP is not. However you can’t tell me when it featured O’Day, Britton, Brach and Givens that was a terrible BP. You’re misremembering things if you are.

    • Paul Folkemer

      April 8, 2019 at 12:44 pm

      You’re right, Orial, that it doesn’t matter too much how you manage if you don’t have the right personnel. Right now, there aren’t a lot of trustworthy pitchers in the O’s bullpen, which limits Hyde’s options a bit.

  5. Fareastern89

    April 8, 2019 at 8:40 am

    If Hyde is experimenting with the bullpen, I can understand why — relievers’ performance varies so significantly from year to year. (Well, except for some, like Mike Wright.) In any case, the O’s bullpen woes pale in comparison to those of the Nationals, whose relievers have the worst collective ERA in the majors so far. Hard to believe that their set-up man, Rosenthal, has made four appearances and has yet to record an out. Any chance Hyde can stash Davis on the bench until the O’s play Washington?

    • Paul Folkemer

      April 8, 2019 at 12:49 pm

      A Rosenthal/Davis matchup would be riveting. Something would have to give (well, unless it was a walk, which could keep both players’ “streaks” alive). But the two teams don’t face each other until after the All-Star break.

  6. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    April 8, 2019 at 9:24 am

    Overall I think Hyde has done a good job. The game where he took Hess out with a no-hitter going was mismanaged imo. He didn’t have anyone up in the bullpen until Toronto had the tying run at 3rd. Especially when Toronto was hitting Bleier hard.

    Offensively, he is mixing his lineup around. Outside of Mancini we don’t have a real home threat. I think it’s a matter of time when Wright is released. Davis is a lost cause and will likely be released as well at some point during the season. However, those decisions are up to Elias not Hyde.

  7. Jbigle1

    April 8, 2019 at 10:16 am

    He’s doing the best he can. You can be of the opinion that we need to call all our “top” prospects up right now but that doesn’t change a thing. We have less talent in our entire organization than at least 80-90% of the teams in baseball. That’s the sad truth. We need top picks and to hit on some international signees. Our major league team is bottom 3 in terms of talent on it and our minor league system is generously rated as a middle of the pack. That’s not a recipe for success in the AL east. It has to get ugly before it gets better. At least we have a direction now and aren’t trying to win the division with guys like Danny Valencia in our starting lineup.

    • Paul Folkemer

      April 8, 2019 at 12:50 pm

      Can’t argue much with this, Jbigle.

  8. willmiranda

    April 8, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Hyde doesn’t have a clue about using pitchers, despite his convoluted explanations referring to a secret plan he and Elias have. Pulling a guy cruising with a no-hitter, allegedly because the lineup was into its third iteration, was a blunder. How many no-hitters have been completed without going through the order three times? It was a rare moment for a memorable night. Beyond that, he’s just tossing bodies out there, even infielders. And then all those roster machinations to sign a pitcher specifically to start, only to use him in relief in a blowout. To repeat, throwing guys out there just to see what will happen is not a plan: it is an experiment without a hypothesis.

    • Paul Folkemer

      April 8, 2019 at 12:52 pm

      As I said in the piece, I think Hyde pulling Hess was more about his pitch count than about going a third time through the lineup. He didn’t want to put too much stress on Hess’ arm so early in the season. I don’t blame him for that. How many pitches would you realistically want him to throw to try to get the no-hitter? 100? 120? More?

      • willmiranda

        April 8, 2019 at 8:36 pm

        Thanks for the response, Paul. Realistically, I would expect him to give up a hit sometime in the eighth inning, making for about a dozen more pitches. That would save three or four late-inning outs for the bullpen, and some combo of setup-man/closer could finish the game and probably the shutout. Going into the ninth would be more problematic, but if he weren’t laboring, I think I’d let him go. I don’t think he would be risking injury beyond fatigue that could be dealt with by extra rest. I think missing a turn in the rotation is worth a shot at a no-hitter. More realistically, bringing in a dubious reliever in the seventh inning lost the no-no and almost the game. Personally, I don’t think the manager ever considered it a realistic possibility that someone on this staff would be good enough to make a credible run at a no-hitter, so the right tactics never entered his mind. It’s understandable in a rookie, but shouldn’t be denied.

    • Camden Brooks

      April 8, 2019 at 1:51 pm

      Hysterical…less than 2 weeks into the season and you’ve determined Hyde doesn’t have a clue when dealing with pitchers?!?

      • willmiranda

        April 8, 2019 at 8:54 pm

        Thanks for the comment, CB. You’re right that it’s early in the season, and I may well be wrong. On the other hand, I haven’t seen much evidence on the field to contradict me and shout, “Wow, great bullpen move!” Seriously, I read people making all kinds of negative comments about various players, also in less than 2 weeks. I just think that the manager should not be immune, especially when he puts players in positions to fail because there is a master plan to test everyone to failure. Araujo had to take the hit for being The Man Who Blew the No-Hitter for Hess when he shouldn’t have been in there. They had to get him out of Baltimore for team morale. Mistakes are understandable, especially by people in new positions, but calling them “the right thing” is dishonest and counterproductive. This is, of course, only my opinion, but I think it’s worth expressing.

    • Borg

      April 11, 2019 at 5:45 am

      Managers should be managing to get a win each night, not shoot for a no-hitter. Do they count more in the standings? There was no way Hess was finishing that game, not with the pitch count already closing in on 100 pitches, so the no-hitter was a moot point anyway. My only criticism was I thought he should let Hess try to finish the inning, just because he was cruising and it would save a couple of outs the bullpen wouldn’t have to get. But given that Hess had already pitched two innings in NY just a couple of days before his start, I can’t say it was the wrong move.

  9. Birdman

    April 8, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    A number of folks continually complain about the absence of Sisco, Hays, etc. from the major league roster, as if their presence would make a significant difference in the Orioles’ performance. But this ignores the reality that pitching, not hitting, is the Orioles’ biggest problem. So far this season, the Orioles are actually middle of the pack offensively, ranking 7th in the league in batting average and runs scored. Its the weakness of the pitching staff – 13th in the league in E.R.A. and 15th in WHIP – which is really dragging the team down.

    • Paul Folkemer

      April 8, 2019 at 12:55 pm

      An excellent point, Birdman. The Orioles’ offense has been good enough to compete in most games. The pitching hasn’t. And the O’s don’t have great pitching options in the high minors right now.

    • JK in EC

      April 8, 2019 at 4:51 pm

      This is the same song the O’s have been singing for about 35 years now — respectable to sometimes very good offense but virtually no starting pitching. Even the 2012 to 2016 winning team used a lot smoke and mirrors to pass the game to a lights out bullpen. I hope the new regime can create a pipeline of pitching talent that feeds the majors for years.

      For now, I am going to trust the process. I will start to worry in 3 years if no true ace is on the horizon.

  10. Bhoffman1

    April 8, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    I love Richie Martins fielding but he cannot hit ML pitching that’s why he was rule five. Collectively him and Mullins are not even hitting 200. Drew Jackson was not given a chance when he looked like Mike Trout at bat compared to them. There was no need to lose him in order to carry 14 pitchers when number 14 is Mike Wright. Wright and Davis are two big lug heads with very little smarts between them. Yes Hays got injured after he tore up Spring Training and was sent down. Him and Sisco were our best hitters in Spring and there is NO reason period they should not be our starting center fielder and catcher over Mullins and Sucre. As for Davis tonight he was pushed up to bat six. Hyde rewarded him for going 0 for the season and even looking worse then 0. It’s funny but pathetic.

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