Lakins, Sulser making the most of their opportunity with Orioles; Rotation set for Marlins' series - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Lakins, Sulser making the most of their opportunity with Orioles; Rotation set for Marlins’ series

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

BALTIMORE—The Orioles’ bullpen had no place to go but up. Through eight games in 2020, it’s an area of strength.

In 2019, Oriole relievers had baseball’s worst ERA at a 5.79. It’s at 4.58 so far and, if you remove Cody Carroll’s 162.00 ERA, it drops all the way to 3.16.

In 2019, Oriole starters had a 5.57 ERA. This year, it’s almost the same, 5.55. The 5-3 record reflects a number of solid starts, even though the ERA doesn’t show it, and an effective bullpen overall.

With a 30-player roster, manager Brandon Hyde has had an abundance of arms. Ten of those are relievers, including Travis Lakins and Cole Sulser.

One or both might not have made the club had the season started on time. Hunter Harvey’s arm injury opened another spot.

Lakins, who has allowed two runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings, has struck out seven without walking a batter.

The 26-year-old right-hander made his major league debut last year, as did Sulser. Lakins had a 3.86 ERA in 16 games with the Boston Red Sox. He allowed just one home run in 23 1/3 innings.

Lakins pitched in four games against the Orioles last season, allowing an earned run in 5 1/3 innings.

On January 21st, the Red Sox traded Lakins to the Chicago Cubs. Ten days later, the Orioles selected him on waivers.

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He stayed with the club through spring training but, with the team set to carry eight relievers on a 13-man staff, his chances were iffy.

“It’s hard to describe the circumstances,” Lakins said. “I never thought I’d be in this situation or any of us would be in this situation with all the Covid going on.”

On Saturday night, Lakins won his first major league game, pitching a scoreless 11th inning against Tampa Bay. After Pat Valaika’s game-winning single, there was a socially distanced celebration.

“I think just how different it was,” Lakins said. “How different the celebration was, how different it was in the clubhouse after it. I think that’s what I’ll remember most. I know it’s like a dream of mine, but it was a crazy experience. Pat had the walk-off, we celebrated with Pat, a little celebration in the locker room, and it was just a wild experience.”

Sulser, a 30-year-old right-hander, is a Dartmouth graduate who was drafted in the 25th round by the Cleveland Indians in 2013 and was traded to Tampa Bay in December 2018.

After seven scoreless appearances for the Rays last September, Sulser found himself on the outs in their organization and was claimed on waivers by the Orioles after the season ended.

After allowing a three-run home run in the ninth inning on Thursday night to the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge to blow a 6-5 Oriole lead, Sulser recorded his second and third saves on Friday and Sunday against Tampa Bay.

On Sunday, Sulser retired all six batters he faced.

“They’re going to continue to pitch in big spots,” Hyde said of his relievers.  “I just want to see them deal with adversity, be able to bounce back. We’re going to continue to give these guys experience and, so far, they’ve done a nice job.”

Judge’s home run accounts for all three runs Sulser has given up. He has struck out four in six innings.

“He does have that strikeout threat,” Hyde said. “He can punch guys out.”

Hyde hasn’t designated a closer but has turned to Sulser four times.

“I’m not going to say necessarily this is what I expected for my role,” Sulser said. “I was hoping to just come in here and earn a spot but, at the same time, I feel like I can pitch in leveraged situations, and I’m super happy to get that opportunity.

“As far as the team goes, I’ve been impressed since Day One with the way guys have handled themselves, all playing to win and playing as a team. I think they continued to do that throughout summer camp, and it’s good to see everyone get off to such a good start.”

Not many Ivy League pitchers or 25th-round draft choices make it to the major leagues.

“You obviously have to have some talent to get to the big leagues, but things have to work out, too, in terms of opportunity,” he said

“Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get an opportunity with the first organization I was with, but I was very thankful to get one last year with the Tampa Bay Rays, and super thankful I got another one this year with the Baltimore Orioles. If you keep playing and going for it, you just hope one of those opportunities will work out. For some guys, it’s a little quicker than others.”

Notes: John Means will start against the Miami Marlins Tuesday at 7:35 p.m. Alex Cobb and Asher Wojciechowski are scheduled to start for the Orioles in a doubleheader that begins at 5:05 p.m. on Wednesday. Both games are seven innings. Hyde hasn’t decided who will pitch first. Wade LeBlanc will pitch Thursday at 7:35 p.m. The Marlins, who had as many as 18 players test positive for the coronavirus and have made wholesale roster changes as a result will feature newly acquired left-hander Richard Bleier … Miami will serve as the home team for Game 2 of Wednesday’s doubleheader and Thursday’s game … Right-handed pitcher Kyle Bradish, left-hander Bruce Zimmermann and outfielder Ryan McKenna were added to the 60-man player pool, which is at 57. Bradish was one of one of four pitchers obtained by the Orioles from the Los Angeles Angels in the Dylan Bundy trade.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

40 Comments

40 Comments

  1. CalsPals

    August 4, 2020 at 7:43 am

    RM, perfect time (especially w/3 player pool spots open) to add him…oh well, curious when they need to make cuts, Mountcastle’s opportunity seems even less…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 4, 2020 at 8:32 am

      Ray, Mountcastle is already among the 57 players in the player pool. Adding him, which will happen relatively soon, I think, won’t affect the player pool.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 4, 2020 at 9:15 am

      They have to cut two players from the 30-man on Thursday.

    • cedar

      August 4, 2020 at 9:24 am

      Given the recent outbreaks, the league should consider keeping the 30-man roster indefinitely.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 4, 2020 at 9:35 am

      Cedar, Elias said that he hopes they do.

    • CalsPals

      August 4, 2020 at 6:49 pm

      Awesome, then just bring him in…go O’s…

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    August 4, 2020 at 8:23 am

    Ryan Mountcastle has exactly zero hits in the minors this year, further delaying his arrival in Baltimore.

    Makes sense.

    • Bhoffman1

      August 4, 2020 at 9:16 am

      So does DJ and Mullins who I like more theses days with the emergence of a arm has a bunt. Can someone tell me that RM and YD are not a major upgrade

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 4, 2020 at 9:34 am

      Bruce, when the Orioles elevate a prospect they give him a full chance to play.

      DJ Stewart was a top draft choice in 2015. He wasn’t this regime’s choice, but they invested a lot in him, and they have to evaluate him, as painful as it may be.

      Mullins has far more skills than Mason Williams, and he needs time to play.

      When they elevated Santander, they gave him a full chance.

      They’re giving that chance to Austin Hays now.

      When Mountcastle is brought up, he’ll get a true opportunity.

      When they want to bring up Diaz, he’ll get a real chance.

      It would be very hard to find adequate playing time to evaluate Santander, Hays, Stewart, Mountcastle, Mullins and Diaz concurrently.

      Of course, injuries and underperformance will change this equation, maybe very quickly.

      But, even though they’re 5-3, they’re going to evaluate their younger players primarily.

    • Bhoffman1

      August 4, 2020 at 9:56 am

      Rich Mullins career BA 191 Williams 286. Spring this year Mullins under 200 , Williams 375. Williams has a better arm , Mullins runs better and probably fields a little better but compared to DJ , Wiliiams fields like Willie Mays. So all I’m saying that both Mullins and William have had the same major league at bats , Williams hit 18 homers last year in Norfolk and had numbers Mullins never came close to so would for you to say Mullins is better is bias.Williams really has never been given a chance partly also due to shoulder surgery in the middle of his career .

    • Bhoffman1

      August 4, 2020 at 10:04 am

      And I do understand they have to give DJ and Mullins a look because they were draftees, I also feel that Mullins will never hit much and DJ just doesn’t look fluid he just looks like a stiff and that RM and and YD have more potential then these twi. Mullins will never be more then a Utility fourth or fifth outfielder

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 4, 2020 at 10:38 am

        BHoff … I believe the difference between Williams and Mullins in my eyes, is age and potential. I know I’m always saying to promote the player that performs the best … in this case Williams … but really … what the hell do I know? I’m on board with giving Mullins his opportunity. I’ve always been his shill, and I’m not ready to get off that pitch just yet. To me, Williams is just the odd man out and is admittedly, getting shafted.

        • Bancells Moustache

          August 4, 2020 at 12:02 pm

          In case anyone was curious, Mike Yazstremski is currently batting .333 with 7 RBIS and an OPS of 1.183 for the San Francisco Giants. We now return you to our regularly scheduled argument about AAAA outfielders.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            August 4, 2020 at 12:07 pm

            You’re a fly in the ointment BanMo.

    • Bhoffman1

      August 4, 2020 at 2:13 pm

      Boog by the way my father did a commercial with Boog and said he was a great guy. Forget about Mullins I think Willams does everything better then Smith jr. Yes he being shafted all I’m
      saying he’s 29 years old and sitting on his ass. This gotta be a team that he could play for now so Elias should release or trade him

    • CalsPals

      August 4, 2020 at 6:51 pm

      Also a bunch of pitchers that haven’t given up a run yet, bringem up… go O’s…

  3. Bhoffman1

    August 4, 2020 at 9:00 am

    Givens will be the next player traded with the emergence of these two guys

  4. Baltimore Castaway

    August 4, 2020 at 9:52 am

    Am wondering if Mike Elias is planning on moving other players on this team soon. Players on other teams that have Playoff aspirations are dropping quickly; the Braves lost their Ace, teams like the Mets, Angels, White Sox need help.

    I say get as much talent as possible from these teams for guys that are not part go the long-term picture for the Orioles.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 4, 2020 at 10:31 am

      But basically you’re trading these players for not much more than a bag of chips. So why trade the Cashner’s of the team … players that can provide a bridge to the future … for teenage stick ball players? I don’t see the point. You’re not getting players that will ever be part of the ‘long-term’ picture anyway. I can at least understand the salary dumps of Britton, Gausman and Bundy. But now your talking about moving anything on the team that remotely looks like a major league player? (God help Elias if he trades Hanser) For what? What are we expecting for players like Givens or Castro? What did we get for Bleier? A player to be named later? Sounds like the proverbial bag of Doritos to me.

      • Tony Paparella

        August 4, 2020 at 11:32 am

        I agree with BRR for the most part.If Givens or Castro are traded there should be a highly rated nearly ready prospect in return.I know there are arms waiting in the system but how ready are they? I don’t necessarily disagree with trading Bleier because of age and didn’t think he was that much of an impact player per se’ though he is a great guy to have on the team.Hanser (The Hammer) is almost to a point where his contract should be extended to be honest.He seems to be able to hit anything around the whole batters box.It is early but this team looks like they are capable of sustaining a competitive performance whenever they go out there.

      • Jbigle1

        August 4, 2020 at 2:22 pm

        You guys realize that this roster will eventually be 26 players? Well it most likely will be this season. This article pretty much says it all. We can only have 26 guys on the roster. Harvey is coming back, and Lakins and Sulser have earned spots on the roster. Why not trade a soon to be 34 year old to clear a spot for two guys with more future upside?

        We may have even gotten something pretty decent back from Miami. We won’t know because it’s off an off 60 man guy. Doesn’t mean he’s a complete zero player at all. Now, at the end of the season when the deal is finalized, if it turns out to be we traded Bleier for a 25 year old in A Ball, I’ll take your guys side. But I think it’s way too early to bash the move.

    • Bhoffman1

      August 4, 2020 at 10:41 am

      Baltimore fans are very low key unlike me but if Elias traded Hanser I think there would be a boycott of fans. . Oops I forget there are no fans in attendance so he can trade the whole team for 16 year toothpicks in Dominican Republic.

      • willmiranda

        August 4, 2020 at 11:33 am

        Funny you guys should mention Alberto. He’s obviously our most tradable player since every contender covets a hitting machine to plug in for a booster shot in a stretch run. And they’d love to get him from a team that wouldn’t want major league talent in return. Personally, I wouldn’t favor it, but when a manager wants his pitchers to experience adversity, this would be a step in the right direction.

        • Bancells Moustache

          August 4, 2020 at 11:56 am

          If Alberto keeps raking, why not offer him a deal and you have a second baseman for the impending turn of the corner? He’s 27 years old. How long does the conversation need to be about how “promising” we can make the Delmarva Shorebirds? If Alberto turns out to be a hitting machine, why the hell is the immediate reaction “Sell him for some teenagers!”

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            August 4, 2020 at 12:13 pm

            Are you expecting anyone to argue with that? I don’t think there is any reason to wait to see if he keeps raking … offer him now.

          • Jbigle1

            August 4, 2020 at 2:16 pm

            You wanna give a guy a deal based on 3 weeks? Yeeeesh. Give me at least 30 games and his likely first slump and let’s see if we feel the same here.

            I suspect some opinions may change. And when I say 3 weeks, uhm well, it’s only been 8 games.

            We have 2 years beyond this season with Alberto already. Can you imagine if we extended Dwight Smith Jr. after his own 3 hot weeks?

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            August 4, 2020 at 3:40 pm

            Uh Jbigs …. 3 weeks? News for you … Hanser had a hell of a year, last year. This isn’t just 3 weeks. Are you suggesting they trade him for another player to be named later?

            I think Alberto has pretty much proven himself .. and for more than 3 weeks.

          • Jbigle1

            August 4, 2020 at 6:34 pm

            No reason to give him away, Boog. Wouldn’t suggest that. He showed he could hit lefties last year. But a 2B that only hits lefties isn’t a franchise cornerstone. He absolutely needs to prove more before I’m considering an extension.

            .949 OPS v lefties last year. Versus a .608 OPS against righties. That’s not playable against right handers.

            Your boy Chris Davis has a .637 OPS v. Right handers last year. You were on him ( and deservedly so) like a fly on horse manure. But Alberto got away with that because he happened to crush lefties. Most pitchers are still Righties. I’m going to play the waiting game for sure.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            August 4, 2020 at 7:59 pm

            JB .. You make a good point and I can respect that. Maybe with our current talent level, my standards have slipped a bit? Hah!

  5. Birdman

    August 4, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    The anti-Elias folks are now getting wound up over a hypothetical trade of Alberto that hasn’t taken place, instead of giving Elias credit for his acquisition of Alberto.

  6. Boog Robinson Robinson

    August 4, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    Hosannas to Elias for picking up Alberto!

    Sir .. you misunderstand .. I don’t think ANYBODY here is “anti-Elias”. Anti “lose-now-win-later” maybe. Maybe we’re not crazy about what many consider to be his unscrupulous methodology, but that doesn’t mean we hope it doesn’t work in the long haul. The NBA has taken steps to prevent teams from employing the tank strategy. It without question, is unethical. I think in the near future, that MLB will do likewise.

    Maybe I shouldn’t speak for some of the others, but I DO hope he’s successful in the long run despite what I consider his low-brow tactics.

    We’re all Oriole fans .. we all want to win .. and Elias is currently the man charged with bringing that about. Nobody is “Anti-Elias”.

    • Phil770

      August 4, 2020 at 7:00 pm

      BRR – when you and others consistently refer to Elias as the “boy wonder” or “boy genius”, seems like you don’t particularly care for him. Agree, you think that he is tanking by not investing in talent to win now – and it is hard to disagree with you. You have also noted regularly that you are a big fan of Dan Duquette as a GM (I always got the impression that you would rather have him as current GM then Elias – could be wrong). Point is that you, and some others, seem particularly critical of Elias. To me that is part of being a fan – we want the team to have a legitimate chance to win, and we will all be critical of moves made, and not made. Stay safe.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 4, 2020 at 8:10 pm

        Abso-freakin’-lutely I was a big Duquette fan. Hated to see him let go. I always felt he made the best team he could with his hands often tied.

        And yes, I’ve used “boy genius” with Elias. Half in jest, half not so much. (I often go for the yucks on this site) Not to mention Yale, he’s a grad of Thomas Ed High School, an MIT-type prepper magnet school in Alexandria Va, which I have some personal ties. That alone tells me he’s way smarter than the average bear.

        And yeah, I hate his tanking, but that’s not to say I don’t understand it. Losing to position yourself for a high pick is not exactly rocket science. And I consider it a bit of a cheat. THAT is what I don’t like about Elias. And frankly I can’t respect it either. I think I’d respect it/him more if he’d just come out and admit to what he’s doing.

        But to think an Orioles fan is rooting against his success is folly. Just doesn’t make sense. I would never root against ANY player, coach or executive with the team. Doesn’t make sense.

    • CalsPals

      August 4, 2020 at 7:42 pm

      Spade is a spade, outside of Iglesias this yr, he hasn’t appeared to try to make us better by only dumpster diving, at some point playing your best guys from the minors, whom he had little to do with & adding a few pieces here an there, some of his pick ups have paid off, waiver claims etc, even a blind squirrel finds a nut now & then ( as my grandma always said), everything on here is opinions, some people will defend theirs even when dead wrong (Onesy), it is what it is, as long as most of us agree & disagree respectfully the O’s will be the O’s & Elias will do what he wants, I doubt he really listens to any of us…go O’s…

  7. dlgruber1

    August 4, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    If tonight’s game is rained out are they gonna be made to play back to back doubleheader’s? It’s not unprecedented but certainly not the ideal situation.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 4, 2020 at 1:57 pm

      The sun is shining.

  8. OriolesNumber1Fan

    August 4, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    WOW!!!! I was crucified for defending Mike Elias and also was accused to being him on this site and now they’re jumping on the bandwagon!!! Not calling anyone out to start any argument but I’m not sure how someone on this site can honestly look in the mirror. As far as the NBA draft is concerned, the bottom 3 teams are the only ones that have a legit chance at the number 1 pick. Not a big defender of the “tanking” as it’s called but small to mid market teams, that’s all they have. Even the International players were taken until recently with the highest bidder. Now there is a pool of money every team gets to sign these players. And if “tanking” is hated so much then why wasn’t Dan Duquette public enemy number 1. He’s the one that cleaned house not Mike Elias. Mike Elias inherited this barren roster less than 2 years ago and picked up all these “waived” players and was accused of bargain basement shopping because he wanted to tank and now all of a sudden – not so much. Just amazing!!!!

  9. CalsPals

    August 4, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    Not worth commenting on…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 4, 2020 at 11:21 pm

      Pathetic.

  10. OriolesNumber1Fan

    August 5, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    Pal and HIS “pal” are both pathetic to the core!!!

    And you can’t comment because you’re dead wrong!!!

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