Baltimore Orioles: The Scary Side of Darren O’Day


Baltimore Orioles reliever Darren O’Day has a scary side to him where he sometimes loads the bases before getting out of the inning.

The Orioles were clinging to a one-run lead going into the eighth inning on Sunday against the Rays when O’Day was called in to do what Darren does — to set up Zach Britton for the kill.

But on this occasion, it was far from a 1-2-3, good morning, good afternoon, goodnight situation. It ended up being a 33-pitch cliff-hanger with the game in the balance.

It began ordinarily enough with a six-pitch strikeout of the hot-hitting Corey Dickerson, followed by a three-pitch fly out from former friend Steve Pearce.

But then it got tense.

Brad Miller fouled off five consecutive pitches before doubling. O’Day was now 17 pitches into the inning. And over the next 11 pitches Steven Souza and Kevin Kiermaier both walked to load the bases.

Finally, in five pitches, O’Day got pinch-hitter Hank Conger to swing wildly and strike out on a 79 mph slider, and the threat had passed.

I was following all of this while at a minor league game and have not looked at it. MASN’s Roch Kubatko credited much of this to the umpire, both in a tweet at the moment and in his article later…

"Plate umpire Dana DeMuth’s strike zone was the size of a toenail, and it forced Darren O’Day to throw 33 pitches in the eighth inning."

For all of his stellar statistics … and they are great … Darren O’Day can have some scary “oh-my” days. These experiences that conjure up the ghosts of Jorge Julio (5.1 BB/9 in 2004) or Kevin Gregg (1.695 WHIP in 2012) seem to be happening more frequently. But are they?

If we define a scary outing as one where a late-innings reliever allows at least two baserunners by walks or hits, is O’Day getting worse as time goes by? He has now done this twice already in his four appearances this year.

Actually, a look at the numbers shows that he has been as remarkably consistent in this regard as he has been with everything else. To chart it, let’s look at how many of our defined “scary innings” he has pitched (SI), along with how many appearance in a year (App), and what his WHIP numbers are.


So what this tells us is that about once in every five appearances O’Day is going to allow two or three or more baserunners. And about half of these times, he escapes the situation he creates without the other team scoring. But it is hard to live through when it is a one-run lead he is protecting.

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Just a year ago, O’Day had his best season of BB versus K’s … walking only 1.9 per nine innings, while striking out 11.3 per nine frames. And in spite of the dramatics this year, O’Day has eight strikeouts in his four innings of work. Those are Betances-like numbers.

This is all to say that nobody is perfect. Even the best get hit sometimes. And by any measure, Darren O’Day is a top-drawer reliever.

In any event, there is only one team still standing in all of MLB without a loss, and it is the one with black and orange from Charm City … just sayin’.  And may that trend continue in Boston today.