Baltimore Orioles: Starting rotation causing wear and tear on bullpen

Jun 1, 2017; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Donnie Hart (58) throws a pitch to a Boston Red Sox batter in the ninth inning during a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 1, 2017; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Donnie Hart (58) throws a pitch to a Boston Red Sox batter in the ninth inning during a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports /

The Baltimore Orioles suffered another loss on Wednesday, the 18th straight game where the opposing team has scored at least five runs.

Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Kevin Gausman made it through 5.2 innings, which isn’t enough. However, it was one of the best starts the Orioles’ starters have turned in since, well the end of May.

When we are sitting on June 22, that’s not okay. Period.

A lot has been made about the Orioles rotation and how the starters have struggled immensely.

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A lot has also been made about the Orioles’ bullpen and its struggles.

Some of those struggles revolve around essential pieces in Zach Britton and Darren O’Day being hurt. Some of it revolves around people being out of position.

The rotation can also be blamed for the bullpen’s issues.

Outside of Mychal Givens and Brad Brach, the Orioles have watched the merry-go-round of other pitchers struggle to some extent. Alec Asher was pretty good in the bullpen, so good they moved him to the rotation. Now, he is back in the bullpen.

Other pieces used in the bullpen this season include Mike Wright (currently on the DL), Miguel Castro, Tyler Wilson, Donnie Hart, Miguel Castro, Vidal Nuno, Gabriel Ynoa, Jayson Aquino, Edwin Jackson, Jimmy Yacabonis, Oliver Drake, Richard Bleier, Stefan Crichton, Ubaldo Jimenez and Logan Verrett. Of the 23 players to pitch for the Orioles this season, only Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman have not pitched out of the bullpen.

Ynoa and Verrett have done a pretty good job. Drake was released after starting the season with the Orioles, and he is now for Milwaukee.

Nuno has been terrible. Yacabonis was worth being called up but was not good in his three appearances. Jackson should have never been in the major leagues.

So, why, so much change? Well, because, no one has been able to pitch well enough to keep a spot in the bullpen.

Let’s look at two pitchers who pitched Wednesday as examples. Kevin Gausman was replaced by Donnie Hart. Hart was just recalled recently. He has appeared in 24 games, and has not been as good as 2016? The reason for that is the fact that Hart was a lefty specialist in 2016. Sure, he might have faced a few right handers, but mainly if the game was in control, either by the Orioles or the opposition. Buck Showalter knew when to use his left-hander, and Hart was successful in that role.

In 2017, Hart has to face everyone because the rotation is not giving enough length to afford Buck Showalter, the bullpen luxury of a left-hand specialist. And, Hart has not been as good, predictably.

On Wednesday, Hart relieved Gausman and would finish the sixth inning, the seventh inning, and the eighth inning. After 2.1 innings, Hart had his longest professional relief appearance, walking one and striking out one. He did a great job.

Castro took the ball to start the ninth inning and promptly got the first out. He then gave up five straight singles, and a 3-0 game was a 5-0 game, and the five runs allowed streak was alive, and the Orioles’ chances of winning were next to zero.

Sure, Castro is the one who was pitching and allowed the runs. But, if Gausman would have got through six innings, or maybe 6 1/3, Castro may not have been needed. Castro also pitched on Tuesday night, getting two key outs with the bases loaded to preserve the lead.

On Tuesday, the story was how maybe Castro would take his chance in the bullpen and run with it. On Wednesday, it was back to another reliever allowing runs that make it tough to come back.

The bullpen is going to continue to turn like a turnstile if players have to be shuffled out due to short starts. It also may be helping to add to the injuries suffered by the bullpen.

On July 5, the Orioles will ideally have their bullpen back in order.

  • Closer: Zach Britton
  • Set up: Brad Brach, Darren O’Day
  • Middle relief: Mychal Givens, Richard Bleier, Donnie Hart and Alec Asher

All of the middle relievers can go extra innings. The back end of the bullpen has closing experience.

But, if the Orioles keep needing long relievers, and have to send down guys like Hart, Asher or Bleier, this won’t work.

Next: The Orioles draftees to watch from the 2017 MLB Draft

It all starts with starting pitching for the Baltimore Orioles.

The starting pitching is failing the team.