Who’s Left In O’s Bullpen?

June 23, 2009 | Thyrl Nelson

Are the O’s really selling us Chris Ray as our lefty specialist?


In his blog on MASN, Roch Kubatko reported that manager Dave Trembley is no longer concerned with carrying a left handed specialist in the bullpen. Did I miss the point in the season where he was concerned?


You could say, particularly early in the season, the Orioles suffered a great deal from Trembley’s unwillingness to play lefty/righty match ups late in games, instead seeming to paint his relievers into roles based on what inning it was.


Roch’s blog points to the fact that Ray is holding lefties to a .133 batting average in the minors. Allow me to point out, that it was matching up with left handed hitters that pretty much sent Ray packing in the first place.


On the season, Ray has faced, at the major league level, more lefties than righties. In 33 at bats, right handers are hitting .152 against Ray, with just 2 doubles, no other extra base hits, 5 RBI, 5 BB and 13 K. In 34 at bats against lefties, Ray has been hit to the tune of .559, with 4 doubles, 2 homers, 11 RBI, 6 BB and just 4 K. They should be keeping Ray as far away from the lefties as possible.


With only Hendrickson and Sherrill as lefties in the bullpen, the need for a specialist is glaring, especially since the only real candidate for the job is currently best serving in the closer’s role for now. But given the way Castillo was pitching in the role, and Walker before him, it won’t make much difference in the short term anyway. Now it will just be more obvious why we can’t get tough lefties out, late in games.


Maybe they’ll give Hendrickson a shot in that role, even though lefties are hitting nearly .300 against him this season. If so, it’d probably create the need for a long reliever to take his current role over. Maybe it’s an indication that Koji could be pitching for his spot in the rotation over his next few turns. In that case, someone else from the bullpen would have to be moved too. Maybe Baez, and well as he’s pitched, he’d probably still be worth more to the O’s, on someone else’s roster. 


It’s a glaring need for a team that’s playing well, and winning close games. But for what’s it’s worth, they’ve basically played all year already without a good lefty specialist. Now it’s just official. Anything that gives Dave Trembley less to strategize about is probably a good thing for now too.


This move, to me, has MacPhail written all over it. We’ll see how it plays out.