Brandon Hyde has been using Orioles' bullpen in unusual ways - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Brandon Hyde has been using Orioles’ bullpen in unusual ways

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon


BOSTON—In the first 15 games of this Orioles season, their starters have pitched fewer innings than their relievers.

Andrew Cashner threw five-plus innings in their 9-5 win over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday, and his three runs give the starters an ERA of 5.35 in 65 2/3 innings

Jimmy Yacabonis, Tanner Scott and Mychal Givens allowed two runs in four innings to reduce the bullpen’s ERA to 7.46 in 66 1/3 innings.

Oriole starters have gone only six innings twice. David Hess threw 6 1/3 hitless innings on April 1, and Cashner finished six a day later.

In two of those games, manager Brandon Hyde employed the opener, when Nate Karns, who transitioned to a bullpen role before landing on the 10-day injured list because of a strained right forearm, pitched only two innings.

It’s been a series of short starts and ineffective outings from the bullpen.

Hyde’s bullpen strategy might look improvised, but it’s not. Before each game, he meets with pitching coach Doug Brocail, and they decide who can pitch that day—and who can’t.

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“You game plan before the game, and you give yourself different scenarios,” Hyde said. “How the game is going to play out—if you’re up a couple, if you’re down a couple, close game, and you pick pockets for guys. You go through their lineup and you pick pockets where you see good matchups or bad matchups you want to stay away from.”

On Saturday, the Orioles used three pitchers in relief, starting with Yacabonis when Cashner gave up back-to-back hits to start the fifth.

“We’re still getting to know our guys a little bit and so things might change, but that’s how you go into the game,” Hyde said. “Give yourself different scenarios.”

The Orioles won four straight when they took the final two of their opening series at Yankee Stadium and the first two at Rogers Centre. Two of those wins were by one run, and the other two by two runs.

Since then, the Orioles haven’t played a one-run game and have lost all three of their two-run games. With so many games decided by large margins, the Orioles’ bullpen hasn’t been used ideally.

“I think it’s the way the games are going, especially the first 10 games or so,” Hyde said. “We only had three or four guys available a night, so when you go into a game, ‘OK, I’ve got these four or five guys available. How am I going to use these five guys?’”

Hyde is missing two pieces from his bullpen, Karns and left-hander Richard Bleier, who was put on the 10-day injured list because of shoulder tendinitis this week.

Mychal Givens, who struck out four of the five Red Sox he faced to close out Saturday’s win, was the Orioles’ projected closer coming into the season. However, he has yet to have a save opportunity in his first six games. The only four saves came during the four-game winning streak, when Mike Wright, Paul Fry, Bleier and Castro got saves.

That was by necessity, Hyde explained.

“When we were doing the opener and we were more conservative with guys, I only had a few guys to choose from nightly,” Hyde said.

“That’s why things were changing so much. That’s why we had four [different] guys get four saves, and those types of things because there were so many guys who were down on a nightly basis. I think once our bullpen gets solidified and guys are able to go back-to-back a little bit more…I’m going to have more options.”

On Saturday, Givens was sharp, and impressive.

“I’m trying to use Mike in the spot where we need him the most,” Hyde said. “It could be a stopper, it could be a closer. With game’s on the line, I want Mike Givens in the game. And today we needed five outs from him, and he did an amazing job. Five quick outs, didn’t throw many pitches.”

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. boss61

    April 14, 2019 at 7:30 am

    Hi Rich. I think we appreciate there is a method to Hyde’s madness. The bullpen has seemed somewhat of a shambles this year, compared to how we have been spoiled with its excellence over the last half-dozen or so years. Hopefully as the young guys gain experience they perform better.

  2. Le Merlu

    April 14, 2019 at 10:10 am

    And this is how the guys have the opportunity to fail in every other way.
    But given Hyde does not have proven leaders with a reliable on-field presence, trial and error shuffling to find out what he needs is probably not the worst of ideas. O’s are not contending, after all.

  3. Orial

    April 14, 2019 at 10:53 am

    To me it comes down to the difference between Buck’s style and Hyde’s style. Buck tried to stretch the starters out to save the bullpen,Hyde goes immediately to the bullpen lf the starter looks “shaky” using the bullpen a bit more. Result–neither works. Castro is the key. Gotta get him straightened out. Another matter that may help them—play all road games(only kidding).

    • Jbigle1

      April 14, 2019 at 3:33 pm

      Buck has the arms in the bullpen to use. Hyde doesn’t. This group of relievers is piss poor.

  4. Borg

    April 15, 2019 at 5:42 am

    Hyde’s hands are tied as far as using the bullpen. He might be able to plan which pitchers to rest on a given day, but the one certainty is that he is going to the mound before the 5th inning is over to start the parade. I can’t even begin to count the number of games (and not just this year-it’s been a problem for years and years) in which the starter enters the 5th already having thrown 80-85 pitches. That means even in a relatively good inning he will be pushing 100 and be done for the night. Why the starters can’t stop nibbling and/or find an out pitch to reduce counts is a question and a problem the coaches will have to solve. They need to find two solid starters who can throw 220+ innings per year and they don’t have them right now. They’ll burn through all of their available major-league relievers before the end of June at this rate, and none of that falls on Hyde, just on the quality of the players they have right now.

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