BALTIMORE—Entering Saturday night’s game against the Tigers, the Orioles’ bullpen has a 3.33 ERA, and that’s without two of their most reliable relievers — right-handers Mychal Givens and Dillon Tate.
Givens (left knee inflammation) and Tate (right elbow) have yet to pitch this season. Manager Brandon Hyde said that Tate will throw for the first time in his rehab assignment for High-A Aberdeen at Wilmington. Givens will work later in the week, Hyde said. He didn’t want to estimate how many outings Tate would need.
“You never want to put a number on it because you don’t know how guys are going to recover after,” Hyde said. “Hopefully, he gets a few and feels great after.”
Hyde was expecting his bullpen to have six veteran pieces — Givens, Tate, Keegan Akin, Bryan Baker, Félix Bautista and Cionel Pérez — but he’s gotten contributions from Mike Baumann and Yennier Cano while Pérez has lagged.
“We’re going to have absences throughout the year. That’s what happens with bullpens and pitching in general,” Hyde said. “Not everybody’s going to be 100 percent, usually. They’ve done a good job—especially of late—pitching really well the last handful of games.
“It would be nice to have a couple of guys back that have some major league experience and done some good things. Hopefully, that’s around the corner, but in the meantime I think our guys have picked up the slack pretty well. I like where we are right now.”
Here are Hyde’s thoughts on some his relievers:
Pérez (4.50 ERA., 16 hits in eight innings)
“Missing the middle part of the plate in some instances. He’s really, really tough to hit so teams, players are aggressive against him. Don’t want to get to two strikes, and he just made a couple of mistakes, middle part of the plate. There hasn’t been damage against him, some singles, some balls getting through. Because of that, it led to a couple of walks in his last appearance because he wanted to bury some pitches and not have guys jump on him early. The stuff is still there. The confidence is still there. I haven’t lost confidence in him.”
Baker (2.61 ERA, four hits in 10 1/3 innings)
“I feel like the fastball velocity, the hop on it is more than it was early to start the year in the cold weather in Boston. Last night, the changeup was ridiculous. When he has the upper 90s fastball going with the really good changeup, the cut slider that he has, it’s three good pitches, pitching with a lot of confidence right now.
“He spent a lot of time in the minor leagues and got an opportunity. Whenever you get to the big leagues, you’re trying to figure some things out. He was trying to figure things out the first half last year. He realized his stuff played here and he could be good here. That’s what I saw the second half, a guy that was pitching with an edge, with a chip on his shoulder, unbelievably aggressive and that’s what he’s doing last year.”
Baumann (0.87 ERA in eight games)
“Sometimes, guys’ stuff changes a little bit in more of shorter sprint outings than having to try to stay out there for 80-plus pitches. We felt good about our rotation, so you wanted to see what he would look like coming out of the pen. Those last three appearances in spring, he threw the ball extremely well, and he’s carried it into this year and done a nice job out of the pen so far.”
Cano (retired all 12 batters he has faced)
“The last couple of weeks in spring training, I felt like there was a different mentality with him. He was more aggressive in the strike zone. Whether he figured it out in some side sessions, whatever happened there, you saw him throw more strikes. That was always the thing with him. Is he going to throw enough strikes? Because his stuff moves all over the place. If you look at some of his outings with us last year, just high pitch counts, long innings. If you look at his last two appearances, it’s five pitches and nine pitches. Obviously, he’s getting early swings and he’s working ahead in the count. That’s the key for him.”
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