Peter Schmuck: Orioles' Hyde struggles to avert a pitching crisis - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Peter Schmuck

Peter Schmuck: Orioles’ Hyde struggles to avert a pitching crisis

Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

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Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has spent the past three months doing everything he possibly can to protect baseball’s most valuable commodity, but the ancient axiom that you can never have enough pitching has never been more true than it is right now in Baltimore.

The latest evidence came with one of the four roster moves the team announced before Tuesday night’s series opener against the Atlanta Braves at Oriole Park. Left-handed relief specialist Danny Coulombe, who has been one of the most dependable arms in the Orioles’ bullpen for the past season and a half, was placed on the 15-day injured list with elbow inflammation.

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It might be nothing. He came up sore after a very impressive two-inning performance in Saturday’s 5-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, and the club is doing what it always does in this kind of situation – taking no chances. He’ll have some tests to see what’s what and, hopefully, all he’ll need is a much-needed two-week vacation.

The bullpen has been terrific, even in the wake of the severe elbow injury that put Félix Bautista, the league’s most dominating closer, on the shelf last August and will keep him there for all of this season. So has the starting rotation, which has also absorbed some big body blows – losing Kyle Bradish and Dean Kremer for extended periods and both John Means and Tyler Wells for the duration.

Kremer, who remains on the injured list with a triceps strain, could be ready to rejoin the rotation near the end of the month.

So, it’s no wonder Hyde has gone to great lengths to limit starters’ pitch counts and bullpen appearances in an attempt to navigate what currently is a month-long stretch of games sandwiched around a single offday. So far, the results speak for themselves, even though there was plenty of social media grumbling when he pulled Bradish out of a seven-inning no-hitter two weeks ago in Chicago and went to the ‘pen after Bradish gave up just one hit over six innings to the Rays on Saturday.

It’s understandable from both angles. The fans want to see a historic performance. Hyde wants to see Bradish healthy and strong come October, but he also knows what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and managers.

The last thing Hyde wanted to see was one of the game’s most effective left-handed relievers heading for the injured list and – even though he’s well aware that no manager can control every outcome – he clearly took this one personally.

“I take it hard, obviously,” he said. “Injuries are part of the game and there’s a lot of pitching injuries happening right now around the league and it scares you, so you try to keep your guys as healthy as possible, knowing that things like this are going to happen.

“You want to stay as healthy as you can and we’ve done an amazing job of that for the last couple years. And for me, that’s a big reason for our success last year and we’re trying to do the same thing this year. But these things do happen and that’s out of your control, so you just have to have a ‘next-guy-up’ mentality and hope that guys like Danny can come back as quick as possible.”

In the meantime, the team will depend more on lefties Cionel Pérez and Keegan Akin for left-left matchups and – in a reciprocal roster move — recalled right-hander Bryan Baker from Triple-A Norfolk.

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