The Orioles hope that their bullpen will be improved in 2020. Last season, their bullpen had an awful 5.79 ERA. During spring training, manager Brandon Hyde said he liked the additional choices he had as relievers.
One pitcher that Hyde hopes to see more of is Hunter Harvey, who dazzled Hyde with his long-awaited major league debut. In seven games, Harvey allowed a run on three hits in 6 1/3 innings. Harvey walked four and struck out 11.
“I couldn’t wait to get back to a ballfield,” Harvey said on a video conference call on Wednesday. “I was actually going a little crazy sitting at home just playing catch and throwing bullpens so to be back at the field and get going again, it’s really exciting. It’s fun to be back with everybody.”
Because of Harvey’s lengthy injury history, there was discussion about whether the Orioles would have to limit his innings in 2020, but with a 60-game season, that probably won’t be necessary.
“Even if it wouldn’t have been cut short, I was ready to go a full season,” Harvey said. “We were kind of taking this year and going right at it, taking everything off and just getting after it, and a 60-game season just makes it easier for them not having to draw something up for me, especially with my past and all the injuries.
“I don’t want to say it’s a great thing, but it’s like a blessing in disguise a little bit just to kind of ease into this role and make it a little easier in some sense.”
Because of the injuries, which cost him the 2015 season and limited him to just 63 2/3 innings from 2016-2018, Harvey has had to learn patience.
“When it got canceled at the end of spring, I was kind of upset, kind of mad,” Harvey said. “I had a full healthy season last year. I was going into this season fully healthy, hopefully breaking with the team … going north with the team.
“For that to be cut off and shut down, it really stunk. It kind of makes you mad, but you have to stay ready and keep going and wait for this moment to start back up.”
Hyde likes relief options: With a 30-man roster to start the season, Hyde will get an opportunity to fill his bullpen even more. With the 13-man staff limit on the initial 26-man roster, the Orioles could have carried eight relievers.
Harvey, Shawn Armstrong, Richard Bleier, Miguel Castro, Paul Fry ad Mychal Givens were considered locks for six of the eight spots. Now, Hyde could have 10—or even more relievers for the season opener on July 24 at Fenway Park in Boston.
“I think there are some spots to be won,” Hyde said. “I’m looking forward to these next couple of weeks because I thought a lot of guys really [were] throwing the ball well back in March. They’re continuing the throw the ball well right now.
“A lot of them have picked up where they left off back in March and have done a really nice job of staying in shape these last couple of months. A lot is going to be said for these next couple of weeks of intrasquads. Hopefully, they make our decision tough here at the end of the month.”
Hyde has been particularly impressed by Cody Carroll and Dillon Tate since the workouts resumed.
Important year for Sisco: With Adley Rutschman on the horizon, whether in 2021 or 2022, Chance Sisco has an opportunity to show that he’s a major league catcher.
Sisco needs a big year to secure a future in the majors. In parts of the last three seasons, he’s hit just .203 in 132 games with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs.
“Just because there’s not going to be any fans in the stands or we have a shorter season isn’t going to change the approach I have going into this year,” Sisco said.
After the All-Star break last season, Sisco hit just .168 and only .143 in September.
“I think he was pressing,” Hyde said. “He came up and swung the bat well early, got into a little bit of a funk and tried to swing his way out of it and really got away from his game a little bit.”
Sisco’s on-base percentage is .319 and his left-handed bat makes him intriguing.
“He’s not a guy that chases outside the strike zone, which I love,” Hyde said.
Sisco lives in Sarasota and stayed there after spring training ended.
“It was honestly very strange,” Sisco said. “I get to go into the clubhouse and use the complex in the offseason and train, hit, do all that stuff.
“To be in Sarasota and not be able to go into the complex was very strange, but out of that I got a home gym and met some cool other people that live in the area that have cages in their backyards and stuff. That was fun to be able to go someplace else and hit.”
Odds and ends: Hyde said that he’s stretching out nine pitchers for possible starters and several more for long relief … Shortstop José Iglesias hasn’t worked out for the last two days because of a sore back … Ryan Mountcastle and Mason Williams have reported. They’ll work out with the Orioles until the secondary site opens. Hyde said that additional players could arrive each day.