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Keeping eye on Orioles bullpen in September

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Keeping eye on Orioles bullpen in September

Posted on 05 September 2014 by Luke Jones

There’s little to be concerned about with the Orioles enjoying a 9 1/2 game lead in the American League East entering the weekend, but the late innings of Thursday’s 9-7 win over the Cincinnati Reds suggest there might be something worth monitoring in the short-term future.

The Orioles bullpen has been stellar all season, ranking fourth in the AL with a 3.21 ERA, but there have been a few leaks over the last week that likely grabbed the attention of manager Buck Showalter. Baltimore relievers only rank sixth in the AL in innings pitched, which doesn’t indicate overuse being a major concern, but witnessing Brian Matusz and the newly-recalled Evan Meek warm up in the eighth inning of a two-run game Thursday — the night after Miguel Gonzalez had pitched a complete-game shutout to give the entire bullpen a night off — made it clear that Showalter didn’t have his full array of arms.

Left-handed reliever Andrew Miller is currently dealing with a tweaked hamstring and hasn’t pitched since Monday when he allowed two hits and an earned run while retiring only two batters. The former Boston reliever has downplayed the significance of his injury, but it’s clear the Orioles manager was trying to avoid using him this week.

Outstanding right-hander Darren O’Day not warming up after Tommy Hunter allowed a leadoff double in the eighth inning Thursday makes you wonder if he might be dealing with a physical challenge as well. O’Day did throw 26 pitches in a rare poor appearance Tuesday when he allowed a grand slam to Jay Bruce, but the submarine-style pitcher only seeing one appearance since Saturday is a little unusual.

Right-hander Brad Brach has been one of the better stories of the 2014 season, but the 28-year-old has allowed five earned runs, nine hits, and three walks in his last three innings of work spanning five appearances. His four runs allowed Thursday allowed the Reds to come back from what was originally a 6-0 deficit in the first inning to force a 7-7 tie in the seventh.

And even though closer Zach Britton continues to do remarkable work in the ninth, he ranks eighth in the majors in innings pitched by relievers and recently completed a stretch in which he appeared in five games in seven days. The former starting pitcher is used to a heavy volume of work, but pitching so frequently is a difficult adjustment for someone in his first season pitching in relief.

By no means should these factors instill any sense of panic, but they do provide evidence for Showalter to make use of his September bullpen that currently features 11 pitchers. The manager has already said he won’t change his managerial style before the Orioles potentially clinch their first division title since 1997, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to lighten the load for the key members of his bullpen such as Britton, O’Day, and Miller while passing a few more opportunities toward the likes of Hunter, Matusz, Ryan Webb, T.J.McFarland, and even veteran Joe Saunders.

It’s a careful balancing act as relievers need regular work to remain sharp, but there’s no question that Showalter will want to do everything he can to ensure that his late-inning weapons are as close to full strength as they can be in October.

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Orioles option Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk to add bullpen help

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Orioles option Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk to add bullpen help

Posted on 21 June 2014 by Luke Jones

As if the sting of Carlos Beltran’s walk-off home run weren’t enough on Friday night, the Orioles raised eyebrows with the decision to option right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk following the heartbreaking 5-3 loss to the New York Yankees.

Manager Buck Showalter needed another bullpen arm after long man T.J. McFarland pitched two innings in the series-opening contest at Yankee Stadium, and the Orioles recalled right-handed pitcher Brad Brach from Triple-A Norfolk to take Gausman’s spot on the 25-man roster prior to Saturday’s game. Brach has posted a 5.40 ERA in 18 1/3 innings with the Orioles this season.

The Orioles have been going with a six-man bullpen since they began using a six-man rotation, which necessitated the need to temporarily take a starting pitcher off the roster.

The good news is that the impressive 23-year-old shouldn’t be be gone for long as the Orioles can bring back Gausman as their 26th man for the split doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays next Friday. This essentially means the only consequence for sending him down is moving his next scheduled start from Wednesday to Friday with an off-day between those games.

Since being recalled on June 7, Gausman is 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA in three starts spanning 19 innings. The decision isn’t ideal with the current six-man rotation already providing extra rest to starters, but there’s no logical reason to believe the Orioles wouldn’t bring him back for next Friday’s start.

Of course, the Orioles can only hope they haven’t messed with the 2012 first-round pick’s good vibes as Gausman would be making his next start on eight days’ rest if he is in fact recalled next Friday.

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Orioles recall Brach, send Meek back down to Norfolk

Posted on 16 May 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Friday that they have recalled right-handed pitcher Brad Brach from Triple-A Norfolk and designated right-handed pitcher Evan Meek for assignment off of the 25-man roster.

Brach, 28, has gone 3-1 with a 3.26 ERA (19.1IP, 7ER), five walks and 38 strikeouts in 15 appearances for the Tides. He appeared in two games for the Orioles earlier this season.

Meek, 31, was recalled yesterday. He has gone 0-1 with a 6.94 ERA (11.2IP, 9ER) in 12 appearances for the Orioles earlier this season.

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Orioles recall Brach as fresh bullpen arm for Minnesota series

Posted on 02 May 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Friday that they have recalled right-handed pitcher Brad Brach from Triple-A Norfolk.

Brach, 28, was 2-1 with a 4.85 ERA (13.0IP, 7ER) in 12 games for the Tides. He will wear number 35.

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Orioles option reliever Brach to Norfolk

Posted on 25 March 2014 by WNST Staff

ORIOLES OPTION RHP BRAD BRACH

            The Orioles today announced that they have optioned RHP BRAD BRACH to Triple-A Norfolk.

With this move, the Orioles now have 40 players at major league spring training, including six non-roster invitees.

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Orioles acquire right-handed reliever Brach from Padres

Posted on 25 November 2013 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Monday that they have acquired right-handed pitcher Brad Brach from the San Diego Padres in exchange for minor league right-handed pitcher Devin Jones.

Brach, 27, posted a 3.19 ERA (31.0IP, 11ER, 31K) in 33 games for San Diego in 2013. In three major league seasons with the Padres, he has gone 3-6 with a 3.70 ERA (104.2IP, 43ER) in 109 relief appearances, averaging 10.1 strikeouts per 9.0 innings. In six minor league seasons, Brach pitched to a 2.34 ERA (277.1IP, 72ER) and recorded 118 saves in 250 relief appearances, posting 10.8 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. He was originally selected by San Diego in the 42nd round of the 2008 First Year Player Draft out of Monmouth University (NJ).

Jones, 23, went 5-7 with a 5.64 ERA (129.1IP, 81ER) in 25 total starts for Class-A Frederick (one GS) and Double-A Bowie (24 GS) in 2013. Originally selected by the Orioles in the 9th round of the 2011 First Year Player Draft out of Mississippi State University, Jones went 15-18 with a 4.47 ERA (262.0IP, 130ER) in 67 games (34 GS) in three seasons in the Baltimore system.

With this move, the Orioles now have 37 players on the 40-man roster.

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