Baltimore Orioles using optionable bullpen to stay ahead

The Baltimore Orioles have continued to keep a fresh pitching staff despite some odd incidents lately, and it plays a significant role in their success.

Going into the 2017 season, the Baltimore Orioles had locked down five of the bullpen spots. Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, Mychal Givens and Donnie Hart were all established in their roles.

Once it was determined that the team was going to employ a five-man bench, that only left one spot open for a long reliever.

In a perfect world…

But, then Zach Britton got hurt. Then hurt again. All of a sudden, the Orioles had two open spots in their bullpen.

Many fans, Oriole media followers, etc. wondered why the Orioles did not do more to keep Vance Worley in the organization.

Now, it is plain as day to see why.

The Orioles have used 19 pitchers this season. In order of innings, those guys are: Dylan Bundy, Wade Miley, Kevin Gausman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brad Brach, Alec Asher, Mychal Givens, Darren O’Day, Vidal Nuno, Tyler Wilson, Donnie Hart, Zach Britton, Jayson Aquino, Gabriel Ynoa, Chris Tillman, Richard Bleier, Stefan Crichton, Oliver Drake and Logan Verrett.

The team is 20-10 with only one starter having more than one win (Bundy – 5).  Givens, who has become known for his penchant for getting wins, has three and Wilson has two. After that, Miley, Gausman, Jimenez, Asher, O’Day, Hart, Aquino, Ynoa, Tillman and Verrett all have won.

I can guarantee you no other team in baseball has 13 pitchers with wins. And, neither of those include the team’s two closers, Brach and Britton.

Last week alone, the transaction page could have filled a page in the newspaper. To view that, visit the team’s transaction page.

A lot of moving pieces isn’t it.

But, think about what the team went through in the last week.

On Tuesday, Asher made another spot start in place of Tillman.

On Wednesday, Gausman was ejected after one inning, forcing the Orioles to use Richard Bleier for four innings. Then,  Jimenez covered the last three innings, and he was supposed to be the Thursday starter.

On Thursday, Wilson made a spot start, and Britton was activated.

On Friday, Wade Miley was out with two outs after being hit by line drives in consecutive at-bats. Gabriel Ynoa covered six innings in that game, followed by Stefan Crichton and others. But, Ynoa suffered a hamstring injury in that game, prompting him to go on the DL.

Also, Zach Britton wasn’t available Friday night, and he went back on the DL with continued forearm issues.

Sunday brought some good news, as  Tillman came back and pitched very well, and was followed by success by Alec Asher who covered three and a third innings before Brad Brach wrapped it up.

A lot to digest.

The good news is that Miley should make his next start. Tillman appears to be recovered. Britton’s injury continues just to need rest, as far as we know. Ynoa’s injury should not be severe.

The better news is that the team has been able to get major league experience for many guys who have options. As long as things settle down a little, Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette can work on focusing on which players best fit with the team at a given time, and then have options to option, so to speak.

The Orioles have long used their roster to their advantage. Now, that is even more apparent, both out of ability and also a necessity.