Mychal Givens faces uncertain Orioles' future -

Rich Dubroff

Mychal Givens faces uncertain Orioles’ future

One of the most puzzling players on this year’s Orioles was reliever Mychal Givens. Manager Brandon Hyde and pitching coach Doug Brocail inherited a bullpen full of pitchers they knew little or nothing about, and they hoped they could lean on Givens.

It turns out they couldn’t, and Givens’ future with the Orioles is in question. Entering the season, Givens was assumed to be the closer.

Of course, there weren’t all that many games to close, but Givens saved only 11 in 19 opportunities. In 2018, when Givens inherited the closer’s role after the July departures of Zack Britton, Brad Brach and Darren O’Day, he recorded eight saves in 10 chances. Overall, Givens was 9-for-13.

In Givens’ first three seasons with the Orioles, he also seemed to be in the right place at the right time. He went an amazing 18-3, but in the last two seasons, Givens was just 2-13.

What was the difference? The easy answer is that Givens fares better earlier in games than later, and performed far better when he set up Britton, Brach and O’Day from 2015-17.

In 2018, Givens had a 2.96 ERA in the ninth inning and a 5.55 ERA in the eighth.

This past season, Givens had a 1.93 ERA in the eighth and a 6.69 ERA in the ninth. Givens allowed nine home runs in 35 ninth innings.

It became obvious that Givens was better in the eighth than the ninth, and none of Givens’ final five outings were in the ninth.

However, Hyde had few options. Miguel Castro had an ERA almost identical to Givens’ in the ninth inning, 6.61. Richard Bleier’s ninth-inning ERA was 7.82.


Shawn Armstrong had the best numbers in the eighth (1.38) and the ninth (1.74), but he had his struggles, too, compiling an 8.74 ERA in the sixth and an 11.34 ERA in the seventh.

If Givens stays with the Orioles in 2020, he’ll likely be used earlier in games.

Hyde’s hope is that Hunter Harvey, who sparkled in nine late-season games, can pitch in those higher-leverage situations, and that perhaps Dillon Tate could be in the mix. Branden Kline, Evan Phillips and Tanner Scott also could get chances to compete for later-inning spots.

And there might be another Givens’ number that could concern general manager Mike Elias. published their estimate of salaries for players who are arbitration-eligible on Wednesday. They think that Givens, who earned $2.15 million this year, could earn $3.2 million next season.

That could give Elias pause, and he might try to trade Givens. While the Orioles might not get a haul for him, there would be a number of interested teams.

Givens doesn’t profile as a closer. However, if he’s moved to a good team with a few good relievers, he could again stand out in lower-leverage spots.

Arbitration-eligible estimates: Besides Givens, the Orioles have six other arbitration-eligible players: Bleier ($1.1 million), Castro ($1.2 million), Hanser Alberto ($1.9 million),  Dylan Bundy and Trey Mancini ($5.7 million each), and Jonathan Villar ($10.4 million).

Villar earned $4.83 million, and even though he played in all 162 games and had the 40th highest WAR (wins over replacement) among position players at 4.0, it would seem unlikely that he’ll more than double his salary in his final year of arbitration.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Raymo

    October 10, 2019 at 7:34 am

    Givens year was mediocre to average. Why would that warrant a 49% pay raise? Must be nice.

  2. CalsPals

    October 10, 2019 at 7:45 am

    Wow, Givens makes 58 appearances & Hyde finally figures this out in his last five, I know what the analytics tell me regarding that…yikes…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      October 10, 2019 at 1:58 pm

      Hey big guy, check your velo before you say more! Are you actually questioning omnipotence of analytics?

    • CalsPals

      October 10, 2019 at 6:29 pm

      Lol…I just know it took Hyde (guesstimate) 53 Givens appearances to figure out what most of us knew in about 10…go O’s…

  3. Orial

    October 10, 2019 at 10:28 am

    Rich interesting you should bring Givens up at this time. I was thinking of him as I watched Kershaw give up the the back to back HRs. Oh the similarities I thought. As much as Givens is an old Orioles trooper he has to go especially looking at the raise he’s eligible for and the young arms in the wings.

  4. Boog Robinson Robinson

    October 10, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    So he’s not a closer … so what. You have got to keep Givens. Players have up years … players have down years. I have to believe that he & his sidearm delivery have some life left. Is the argument against keeping him really the estimated size of his contract? Are you telling me that we’re sweating a paltry 3.2 million salary now? Good grief people, there’s a price to operating a big league franchise. Or is it time to just admit that this isn’t exactly a big league operation any more?

    • Ekim

      October 10, 2019 at 2:11 pm

      “… any more?” Where have you been for the past two years? The only thing “big league” is the designation that goes with the name Orioles… certainly not the product that is offered.

    • CalsPals

      October 10, 2019 at 6:31 pm

      Agree, just don’t bring him in in the 9th…go O’s…

    • SailinO

      October 11, 2019 at 8:12 am

      Are you saying they are a second division team boog? Interesting.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 11, 2019 at 7:42 pm

        Back to that old argument? Well, they may be 2nd division by your definition, but that hardly means they’ll stop playing the likes of the Yankees & Sox.

    • SailinO

      October 12, 2019 at 9:34 pm

      If they are “not exactly a big league operation”then they should be playing in a lesser league. Ya can’t have it both ways big fella

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 15, 2019 at 2:12 pm

        Oh yes you can little fella. See the Indians & Cubs for lessons in half a century futility. I never saw them drop a league. Sheeesssh. You made a STUPID suggestion and you won’t let it go.

    • SailinO

      October 16, 2019 at 12:32 am

      you make the argument for me Baby Huey, perhaps they should have. Really, trading wits with you is like dueling with an unarmed man

  5. cedar

    October 10, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    If the starting pitching doesn’t get any better than the bullpen needs to. If Harvey or Tate can handle the late innings then returning Givens to the 7th or 8th inning might actually see an O’s team that at least doesn’t surrender games late.

    • CalsPals

      October 10, 2019 at 6:32 pm

      I’m just concerned Harvey wouldn’t last an entire season…go O’s…

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