Baltimore Orioles: 2014 Season Grades – Relief Pitchers

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Today is the final of five total posts where we look back at the 2014 season for the Baltimore Orioles and have some fun assigning individual player grades for the year. You can link to the catchers, infielders, outfielders, and starting pitchers articles that have been completed earlier this week. Today we will look at relief pitchers, which will be a relief to me after spending A LOT of time on these five posts!  

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As you scroll through the following pages, we will discuss and grade Zach Britton, Andrew Miller, Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz, Brad Brach, T.J. McFarland, and Ryan Webb. Others who pitched in relief for the Orioles this year (innings noted) that I’ll not detail and grade are Evan Meek (23.1), Josh Stinson (13), Preston Guillmet (10.1), Troy Patton (6.2), Joe Saunders (3.1), and Ramon Ramirez (1.0).

Before looking at and grading the eight individual relief pitchers, here are some Baltimore Orioles relief pitching statistics and how they compare in the American League.

Wins/Losses – The Orioles relievers tallied a total of 28 wins against 21 losses, which tied for third in the AL with Kansas City. The most wins by relievers were by the Indians with 35, so this statistic is not the most significant; but you would not want it to be among the worst in the league either.

ERA – The O’s relievers had the third-best ERA in the AL at 3.10. The Mariners were the best at 2.59, while the A’s were 2.91 with the Indians just behind the O’s with 3.12.

Innings Pitched – As I wrote yesterday, so much was made in the last offseason about the need for starters to go deep into games. With a total of 954 innings, the Orioles starters were 10th in the league. The Orioles bullpen tied for fifth-most innings in the AL with 507.2.  So this puts them a bit beyond the middle in both directions, though not grossly so. The Angels had the most bullpen innings thrown with 540 total. Again, I think the concern about this is overblown, especially considering the capable bullpen efficiency usage of Buck Showalter’s management style.

Batting Average Against / WHIP – The Orioles relievers placed #4 in average against with a .229 … 10 points behind the Mariners, with the A’s and Rays in between. The Birds tied for second with a WHIP of 1.16 along with the Mariners … trailing the A’s best number of 1.08. So the bullpen was very efficient.

GO/AO – An interesting statistic relative to the O’s bullpen is that they were #1 by a sizeable amount in groundouts verses fly outs (air outs), with a stat of 1.47 … illustrating the excellent abilities of the Orioles relievers to keep the ball on the ground.

Overall it was an extremely good year for the Orioles relievers. I have come to believe that having three dominant arms in the bullpen is near the very top of the list of what a winning outfit must have in the modern game of baseball. The bullpen was a great strength of the 2014 Orioles and deserves significant shares of the credit for giving this team a 96-win season.

Let’s grade some of them, starting on the next page with Zach Britton.