The Orioles expected Dean Kremer to be one of their starting pitchers this season. They expected Paul Fry to be one of the pillars in a strong bullpen. Neither has fulfilled those expectations.
“It comes back to command,” manager Brandon Hyde said Friday before the start of the final series in Toronto. “To be able to command in the big leagues, to be able to work ahead of hitters.”
Kremer, who was 1-1 in four promising late-season starts in 2020, began this season as the Orioles’ fifth starter. He struggled from the start and, after recording just one out and allowing six runs while walking five against Toronto on June 24th, he was demoted to Triple-A Norfolk.
Hyde thought Kremer needed an extended stay in Triple-A. Except for a spot start in the first game of the September 11th doubleheader against the Blue Jays, Kremer has been at Norfolk since late June, and he’ll conclude his season there on Saturday night when he’s scheduled to start against Durham.
Kremer was 0-7 with a 7.55 ERA with the Orioles. With the Tides, he’s 1-5 with a 5.09 ERA in 16 games, which includes four relief appearances.
“Dean is still a pitching prospect,” Hyde said. “He’s got pitches. He’s got a major league arsenal. He just needs to know how to use them and refine the command of all those pitches to become a starting pitcher in this division, this league.
‘You see the stuff. He’s had some success. He’s had some good starts. To be consistent, to be able to make 30 starts in the big leagues, you need to be able to pitch deeper in the game. You’ve got to be able to throw less pitches per inning. You’ve got to be able to get early outs. You’ve got to be able to put guys away when ahead. That starts with strike one, and that starts with having confidence with all your pitches to throw strikes.”
Fry, who allowed just one earned run in the season’s first month, imploded in August and allowed 17 earned runs in seven innings for a 21.86 ERA.
On August 28th, the Orioles sent Fry to Norfolk, expecting that he’d be back for the final few weeks of the season.
“Paul Fry had a great first half,” Hyde said. “He had too many walks in the second half. He was behind in the count a lot, and we were hoping to send him to Triple-A to try to pitch in a little bit lower pressure situation, get that feeling back that he had in the first half, and I hope he comes into spring training lights out, like he was in the first half for us. That’s the pitcher that he is.”
Fry’s struggles have continued at Triple-A, where he has an 8.22 ERA in 10 games. He, too, will end his season in the minors.
Mattson gets the call: Isaac Mattson was recalled from Norfolk for the final series of the season in Toronto. Mattson, who was one of four pitchers the Orioles acquired for Dylan Bundy from the Los Angeles Angels in December 2019, has a 9.00 ERA in three games with the Orioles. At Norfolk, the right-hander was 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA in 18 games.
Alexander Wells, who was the winning pitcher in Thursday after limiting the Boston Red Sox to one run in sixth innings, was optioned to Norfolk to make room for Mattson. With Thomas Eshelman starting on Friday night, the move gives the Orioles more depth in the bullpen.