With Opening Day less than three weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2018 Orioles every day as they try to bounce back from a disappointing last-place finish a year ago.
RP Mychal Givens
Opening Day age: 27
Contract status: Under club control through the 2021 season
2017 stats: 8-1, 0 saves, 2.75 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 10 HR, 78 2/3 innings
Why to be impressed: After lefties batted .366 against him in 2016, Givens held lefty bats to a miniscule .184 average and .619 OPS as he improved his changeup as a real weapon against them. The right-hander also posted the fifth-best strand rate (86.3 percent) of all major league relievers completing at least 70 innings and was worth 2.3 wins above replacement, making him the club’s most valuable reliever.
Why to be concerned: Givens saw both his home run and hard contact rates increase from his first two seasons despite improving in both areas after the All-Star break. However, his ERA and walk rates were higher in the second half as he pitched a career-high 78 2/3 innings in 2017, making it wise for the Orioles to keep an eye on Givens’ workload as the season progresses.
2018 outlook: Free-agent-to-be Brad Brach figures to receive the early save opportunities with Zach Britton sidelined, but the Orioles would be wise to throw some chances Givens’ way as he profiles as the closer of the future. If Givens can continue his success against lefty hitters and miss bats at a rate a little closer to his 2016 level, he should be more than ready to handle the ninth inning in 2019 and beyond.
Not-so-scientific projections for 2018: 7-3, 9 saves, 2.62 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 7 HR, 71 innings