Peter Schmuck: Orioles' Brandon Hyde has enough slack to be patient with struggling players - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Peter Schmuck

Peter Schmuck: Orioles’ Brandon Hyde has enough slack to be patient with struggling players

Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer USA TODAY Sports

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If you find it hard to understand why Orioles manager Brandon Hyde stubbornly defends his struggling players and continues to put them in important situations, it’s really not that complicated.

It’s because he can.

The Orioles will enter Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays a half-game behind the Yankees in the American League East and – though it probably doesn’t feel like it after back-to-back losses – on pace to win 105 regular-season games.

Which means that he can afford to give centerfielder Cedric Mullins time to work his way out of a deep offensive slump and keep putting Colton Cowser in the everyday lineup while he grows accustomed to a steady diet of filthy changeups.

“I’d like for [Mullins] to get going offensively,’’ Hyde said during his pregame press briefing on Tuesday. “When Ced’s being Ced, our lineup completely changes. I know his process is good. He’s working the right way. He was out here hitting early yesterday on the field. I thought the work was really good. I’m just hoping he can get going.”

Since the team is now owned by a private capital guy, maybe we should look at Hyde’s approach as an investment. He’s spending some of the competitive capital his team has accumulated during a very successful first quarter of the season in the hope that it will pay off with a more explosive offensive attack as the O’s head into the summer.

Not that his patience is unlimited. It only took him a few bad outings by veteran closer Craig Kimbrel to shuffle the bullpen and temporarily relegate the likely Hall of Famer to lower-leverage appearances, an approach that seems to have pulled him out of a brief funk.

When Hyde was asked when we’ll see Kimbrel in a save situation again, his answer was cryptic.

“We’ll see,” he said. “Any time.”

Or course, if what shows up on social media is any indication, there are a lot of fans wondering why executive VP/general manager Mike Elias hasn’t gone looking for a new closer.

He probably has, but the current bullpen has proven to be resilient enough to absorb a few body blows and still keep the club in position to win most of the games that have been contested in the late or extra innings.

Top to bottom, the pitching staff has quality and depth that fans could only dream of when Elias embarked on his painful organizational rebuilding program five years ago.

When was the last time this team had more high-quality starting pitchers than slots in a five-man rotation?

If there is a caveat here, it is that the quality of the competition will heat up along with the weather. The Orioles have the first-place Seattle Mariners coming in this weekend, then hit the road to play the struggling Cardinals and White Sox before embarking on a 35-day stretch that includes only three opponents with losing records and features only two offdays.

Hyde will need every bit of the club’s bullpen depth – and then some – to get through it and remain at or near the top of the standings.

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