PHILADELPHIA—The Orioles have had their share of surprises in the bullpen. Mike Baumann is one of them.
Late in spring training, manager Brandon Hyde decided to convert Baumann, who had started throughout the minor and in four games in 2022, to a reliever, and it’s worked out marvelously.
Baumann, whom Hyde called the player of the game for Sunday’s 2 2/3 scoreless innings in a 5-3 win over Tamp Bay, is 7-0 with a 3.49 ERA in 44 games.
“Not something I would have expected, but when you go in those games in the sixth or seventh innings, just trying to to do my job at keeping the score where it’s at,” Baumann said. “The bats have been so good at getting runs late in the game. They’re always going to keep us in there. You can never count them out.”
Hyde said Baumann is filling a real need for the Orioles. Yennier Cano and Félix Bautista have been excellent in the late innings, but the sixth and seventh innings have been shaky at times.
“What he did for us yesterday won us the game,” Hyde said. “Being able to cover those innings, those middle parts. That’s an area where we need to improve. That’s where we’ve had a bit of a hangup during the season in some of the games we’ve lost. We’ve had a tough time covering those middle innings.
“That won us the game yesterday, two-plus scoreless, allowing the offense to get a couple of runs off a really good Rays bullpen. Mike’s had a really good year. He’s had some really good moments, some not-so-good moments. For his first full year in the big leagues to be put in the reliever role two weeks before spring training was over, to have the season he’s been having, I’m really impressed by him.
Baumann has embraced the role Hyde has given him
“I’ve loved it,” he said. “It’s definitely been an awesome experience, a lot to learn from moving forward. My hope is to just keep improving day in and day out. The guys in the ‘pen have been great. They’ve helped me every step of the way. There’s a lot to learn from each and every one of those guys … I just love picking all their brains. They’ve helped me build routines. I owe a lot to those guys.”
There has been an adjustment period.
“Just having a feel for the game,” he said. “Kind of knowing each situation and having an idea of how, getting hot quick, something I hadn’t thought about going into the season.”
Baumann said he doesn’t really miss starting.
“Not too much,” he said. “There’s pros and cons to both sides of things, but I love being able to pitch every day and be a part of as many days as possible. It is definitely different, but I’m more used to it now. I think I almost prefer it. I like being in as many games as possible.”
Note: Hyde is giving catcher Adley Rutschman a day off on Monday against the Phillies. He said that since Rutschman played all four games on the hard artificial turf at Tampa Bay and caught three of them, he needed the day off.