Baltimore Orioles’ Bullpen Flexibility Hinges on One Player

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04: Mychal Givens
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04: Mychal Givens /

The Baltimore Orioles’ tumultuous offseason has extended from 2017 into the first part of January 2018, but there is one source for optimism.

Things still aren’t going well for the Baltimore OriolesManny Machado is still on the Orioles roster, for better or worse. Most concerning, no one else has been signed or acquired.

Adam Jones is replying to fans comments on a MASN tweet about whether he should take a hometown discount. At least Gerrit Cole didn’t go to the New York Yankees?

The Baltimore Orioles continue to talk about moving relief pitchers to the starting rotation. First, it was Miguel Castro. The man who served a couple of roles in 2017, from long man to key shutdown reliever, will have a chance to be a starter in 2018. Then it was Zach Britton before he tore his Achilles while working out in California.

These conversations highlight two items:

One is that Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter trust their bullpen and the flexibility of it, to subtract from it. The other is that there are parts of the team not as strong as the bullpen.

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But, why is the bullpen so strong? I’d argue you need to look no further than one former infielder…Mychal Givens.

Since debuting in the major leagues in 2015, Givens is 18-3 with a 2.75 ERA, 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings and a WHIP of 1.107. That’s very good.

Givens had the tied for second-most wins by a reliever in 2017 with eight, behind only David Robertson of the New York Yankees. In 2016, Givens was tied for third with eight, behind only Andrew Miller of the Cleveland Indians and Brad Brach, with 10.

So, over the last two seasons, no one has more wins as a reliever than Givens does. That’s why he has earned the nickname ‘The Vulture’ as he comes in and vultures wins away from other pitchers.

Givens reportedly was expected to be in “great demand” during the Winter Meetings. Fortunately, the Orioles continuous rumors on Machado may have blocked out any ideas of moving Givens. At least that didn’t happen, right?

But, it isn’t just about the W. Givens has thrown 150+ innings over the last two seasons. He has appeared in 135 games. He has shown he is durable. His splits back that up.

Givens is 12-1 in the first half of seasons, with a 2.74 ERA in 85.1 innings pitched. He has 95 strikeouts, 33 walks allowed and 26 earned runs allowed, with a WHIP of 1.207.

In the second half of seasons, Givens is 6-2 with a 2.76 ERA in 98 innings pitched. He has 127 strikeouts, 34 walks allowed and 30 earned runs allowed, with a WHIP of 1.020.

While some relievers wear down as the season goes on, Givens doesn’t. His batting average against is .156 in July, and .180 in September and October. The other part here is he is not eligible to become a free agent until 2022. Which is very important, because both Brach and Britton are free agents after the 2018 season.

The Baltimore Orioles, since Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter arrived, have been a team that has maximized their bullpen. Some are the use of pieces, something Showalter excels at. Some is the quality of those pieces.

Guys like Jim Johnson, Britton, Darren O’Day, Brach, and Givens have given the Orioles’ bullpen reliable pieces who can be used in any situation.

There may be a lot of doom and gloom around the Orioles right now, but the bullpen will continue to be a strength, even if Brach would end up traded.

Next: Orioles Have Discussed Signing 3B Mike Moustakas

With Mychal Givens in the bullpen, the Orioles have one of the best relievers in baseball. Not best young relievers, or best set up men. No, one of the best relievers in the entire game.