Orioles have plenty of bullpen choices - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Orioles have plenty of bullpen choices

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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SARASOTA, Florida—The Orioles’ most pleasant decision may be how to choose eight pitchers from a deep bullpen. Their task got a little easier on Saturday when they optioned two pitchers, right-hander Kaleb Ort and left-hander Matt Krook, to their minor league camp.

Both were acquired within a day of each other: Krook, a 29-year-old left-hander,was acquired on February 18th from the New York Yankees for cash considerations, and Ort, a 32-year-old right-hander, off waivers from Philadelphia on February19th,

Ort allowed three runs on four hits in 3 2/3 innings for a 7.36 ERA in four games. Krook gave up a run on two hits in three innings.

“It’s a couple of guys that are on our 40-man [roster] that are going to be bullpen options for us,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s not going just the 26 guys we leave here [with}. It’s going to be people on the roster, non-roster, especially in the bullpen. You’re always going to need bullpen help.

“Both of those guys have some major league experience. One’s right-handed, one’s left-handed. Ort’s more of a power guy that we saw a lot of Boston. Krook’s a lefty, funky, posted really good Triple-A numbers, Got to the big leagues last year. To have those guys as depth options at Triple-A, we feel is important.”

The thinking here is that six relievers are certainties: closer Craig Kimbel, left-handers Danny Coulombe and Cionel Pérez, and right-handers Mike Baumann, Yennier Cano and Dillon Tate.

Baumann, Cano, Coulombe and left-hander Keegan Akin were scheduled to pitch in relief on Sunday against Atlanta in Sarasota while Pérez, Tate, Baker and Andrew Suárez were scheduled to face Detroit in Lakeland.

Before spring training began, Kimbrel, Cano, Coulombe and Pérez were considered locks.

Baumann, who is out of options, seemed likely to make the team when spring training began, and his 4 2/3 hitless innings seems to have secured his spot.

Tate missed the 2023 season with elbow and forearm injuries and has two options, but he’s thrown five hitless innings.

“That was a big loss for us last year,” Hyde said. “He looks great. Two years ago, he was one of the best right-on-right relievers, especially in the American League, the heavy sinker and how he was able to play off of that. It was a really tough matchup for a lot of hitters. [If] we get him back to where he was a couple of years ago, that’s great. He looks like he’s on the right track.”

If those six are in the bullpen, that means two jobs are open. Akin, who has allowed one hit in 6 1/3 scoreless innings, has been strong after missing the second half of the season with a back injury. If Akin makes the roster along with Coulombe and Pérez, that would give the Orioles three left-handers.

“It’s a huge difference,” Hyde said. “To see him healthy right now, to see him the way he’s throwing the baseball, this is the best I’ve seen him, they way he keep his velocity, how quick he is, the secondary stuff has really, really improved.

“He’s had a really good camp, and he’s in great shape. The best he’s looked. He came in and did a great job this offseason getting healthy, getting right, preparing for the season, and he really performed well this spring.”

Hyde likes Akin’s ability to throw more than one inning

“That’s the biggest thing with Keegan. You can throw him against lefties and righties,” Hyde said. “He’s gone multiple innings in the past. He’s been a starter in the past. He can be comfortable in pitching with any sort of situation, especially the way he’s throwing the ball right now.”

Julio Teheran, a 33-year-old right-hander who was signed to a minor league contract on February 29th, and is starting in the split squad in Lakeland against Detroit, is a possibility for the bullpen.

Bryan Baker, Jonathan Heasley, Albert Suárez, Andrew Suárez, Nick Vespi and Bruce Zimmermann are also contenders for a final spot.

Note: Ryan Mountcastle, who’s out with a stiff neck for the second game in a row, thinks he’ll be able to play early next week.

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