Baltimore Orioles Must Get Creative With Pedro Araújo, Nestor Cortes Jr.

BALTIMORE, MD - MARCH 31: Pedro Araujo
BALTIMORE, MD - MARCH 31: Pedro Araujo /

Baltimore Orioles must apply Rule 5 pitchers Pedro Araújo and Nestor Cortes Jr. to their game plan while they can.

The Baltimore Orioles are sitting at 1-4, but a growing number of issues surrounding the team could be bigger than the team’s slow start.

There are no moral victories in baseball.

However, if I would have told you that to the Baltimore Orioles received five strong innings from Mike Wright and were leading when Justin Verlander left the game, you would have felt pretty good.

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If I would have told you that the Orioles’ pitcher coming in with that lead was Mychal Givens, you would have also felt pretty good.

Well, it didn’t quite work out. Givens left up a two-run home run to Josh Reddick to give the Houston Astros back the lead at 5-4. Then, Adam Jones tied it back up heading to the bottom of the seventh inning.

Who does Buck Showalter turn to, with the game 5-5 in the seventh inning against one of the best hitting teams in the game?

A Rule 5 draft pick, Pedro Araujo. And, when he leaves up a run on a George Springer double and then loads the bases with two outs, you would think manager Buck Showalter might go to Darren O’Day or Richard Bleier to get one out and get back in the dugout down one, right?

No, he turns to fellow Rule 5 pick Nestor Cortes Jr. And…he allows a grand slam to Josh Reddick to make it a 10-5 game.

Now, I’m going to go all Brian Dozier and say the game was over and the Orioles should roll over, but this was a big blow to their chances.

So, the question becomes, why are two Rule 5 pitchers pitching back to back in a close game, and do they need to be?

Part of the problem is the short starts so far this year. The Orioles have got 7, 5, 4, 4 and 5 innings from their starters. In 45 innings (extra innings in game 1, 8 in the two Astros’ losses) the bullpen has thrown 20 innings so far. That’s not good.

So, why the Rule 5 draft guys again?

Miguel Castro was likely not available, having thrown two innings and 34 pitches on Monday.

Showalter was probably trying to stay away from Richard Bleier, who had thrown 18 pitches on Monday.

Mychal Givens had come in in the sixth inning, which I have no problem with, but he wasn’t overly effective and had thrown 24 pitches in one inning.

So, that leaves Darren O’Day and Brad Brach. O’Day pitched Monday but threw less than ten pitches. Brach last pitched during the Twins series.

However, not using them is because Buck Showalter is utilizing them in an old-school manner. He is saving them to protect a lead.

But, what if that lead never comes?

Mychal Givens should be the Orioles version of Andrew Miller, a pitcher who can get outs at whatever juncture of the game is necessary, whether that is the sixth inning or the eighth.

Showalter used him properly, he just didn’t get the job done.

But, in turning to the two Rule 5 picks, it shows the issues in the Orioles’ bullpen.

Castro wasn’t available. Givens was out of the game. That leaves Bleier, who the Orioles likely didn’t want to use, and the Rule 5 picks.

The Rule 5 picks are hampering the bullpen. There’s no doubt about it.

Look, I thought that one of them, or both if one was starting, deserved to be on the roster. Carrying two, however, is really hurting the flexibility and options the Orioles have in the bullpen.

So, can this be fixed?

Well, yes it can, in one of two ways.

One is that the Orioles determine one of the Rule 5 picks needs to go. Araujo has pitched in three games so far, with a 0-1 record and a 13.50 ERA in 3.1 innings. He has a WHIP of 1.8.

Cortes has pitched 3.1 innings in two games, with a 5.40 ERA and a 2.40 WHIP.

No, the numbers are not good for either. Both have shown an ability to get out of trouble, but are doing way too much getting into trouble in the first place.

Does this mean they are overmatched? It could, although the sample size is small.

Sure, there are other options, such as Tanner Scott who could take their place. But, until Zach Britton comes back, there aren’t a lot of options.

The other way to fix this is to get starters to go longer into games. That was the goal of getting an innings eater in Andrew Cashner. That was the hope of thinking Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy would take the next step.

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Maybe it is the way they are handled in spring training, and not getting their innings high enough. Or maybe the Orioles are being too cautious with extending pitch counts.

For a team with two Rule 5 picks, that isn’t going to work. Something needs to be done, or the bullpen is going to imploding on a regular basis. Stay tuned to The Baltimore Wire.