Orioles' Tate excited about coming back; Coulombe avoids arbitration - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ Tate excited about coming back; Coulombe avoids arbitration

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports


Despite winning 18 more games than they did the year before, the Orioles’ bullpen’s earned-run average in 2023 was slightly worse than it was in 2022. Last year, the bullpen ERA was 3.55. In 2022, it was 3.49.

In 2023, the Orioles had closer Félix Bautista for most of the season, and another All-Star, Yennier Cano. They didn’t have Dillon Tate.

Tate was 4-4 with a 3.05 ERA and five saves with a WHIP of 0.991 in 2022, and a bullpen with Bautista and Tate as a setup man looked formidable.

In November 2022, Tate suffered an elbow injury that would cause him to miss the entire season as well as a chance to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

“Ready to go for camp and just excited to be back out there,” Tate said on Saturday at a stop at Bowlero in Timonium during the Birdland Caravan. “I’m in camp a little bit early right now trying to get acclimated to everything, and I’ll be ready by first workout.”

Tate came to the Orioles from the New York Yankees in July 2018 as part of a trade for Zack Britton. By 2021, he had become a mainstay in the bullpen.

“It was a whirlwind to say the least, but I’m through it now at this point, and just trying to look forward,” he said.

The Orioles hoped that Tate would miss only the first month or two of 2023, but when they sent him on a rehab assignment, things didn’t work out. Tate had a 15.19 ERA in 10 2/3 innings with 11 walks, and he was shut down.

“That’s always the hope whenever you’re in any rehab situation,” Tate said. “Sometimes, it shakes out. Sometimes, it doesn’t and unfortunately that wasn’t the case for me. Now, it’s my time to go back out there and play, so I’m ready.”

Tate was assured of making the team the last two seasons, but because of his absence last year, that’s no longer the case. He could be part of a strong bullpen with Craig Kimbrel as closer, Cano, Danny Coulombe and Cionel Pérez. DL Hall and Tyler Wells could also be in the bullpen.

“We can compete with anybody. We’ve shown that over the past few years,” Tate said about the Orioles’ turnaround in 2022 and their 101 wins in 2023. “The … record has continued to go up. I wouldn’t see any reason for it not to continue trending the way that it is, and we’re a competitive club. We’re ready to win.”

Tate said elbow surgery wasn’t a consideration.

“Thankfully, no,” Tate said. “Structurally everything was intact. It was really more of a muscular/body issue more than anything.”

Tate was on teams that lost 108 games in 2019 and 110 games in 2021. He’s eager to be part of a winning team.

“For me, it’s anything that I can do to help,” he said. “We’re obviously doing what we need to do as a club and we’re showing people that we mean business. I’m ready to go out there and do what I can do to help us win more than 101 games and into the next piece of the season.”

Coulombe wants to build on 2023: A year ago, Coulombe was an excess part of the Minnesota Twins’ bullpen. After he was dealt to the Orioles just before the beginning of last season, he produced his best season in the major leagues.

Coulombe was 5-3 with a 2.81 ERA and two saves.

“I was really happy with it,” Coulombe said on Thursday. “I’m a perfectionist. There’s things I know I can get better at, but I was happy with the way it went. I really enjoyed the role, and I’m excited to get it rolling again.”

On Monday, the Orioles announced that Coloumbe had agreed to a 2024 contract with a club option for 2025 avoiding arbitration.

Coulombe was a vital part of last year’s bullpen, and he was pleased he was able to throw each of his six pitches, a more diversified arsenal than nearly all other relievers.

“In this game, you’re always competing in some way or another,” Coulombe said. “It can change really quickly.”

The Orioles’ bullpen appears to be strong again, and Coulombe likes what he sees.

“I’m really excited about it,” Coulombe said. “You can’t replace Félix. I think we have a lot of capable arms, and I think it’s going to be a really good year.”

Coulombe will work with a new pitching coach, Drew French, and assistant pitching coach, Mitch Plassmeyer.

“I’ve talked to French on the phone a few times. He seems awesome,” Coulombe said. “Everybody sings his praises. I’m really excited to get to work with him. I’ve never met Mitch. I’ve heard he’s awesome, too. I’m excited to get to meet him and talk with him a little more. I’m really excited for this year. I think it’s going to mix and mesh well.”

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