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Orioles continue bullpen shuffle by recalling Scott, Kline

Posted on 21 June 2019 by Luke Jones

The Orioles continue to seek fresh arms and palatable answers in the American League’s worst bullpen.

After optioning relievers Paul Fry and Evan Phillips to Triple-A Norfolk early Friday morning, Baltimore recalled left-hander Tanner Scott from the Tides and right-hander pitcher Branden Kline from Double-A Bowie for the second contest of a four-game set in Seattle. With starting pitcher John Means going to the 10-day injured list with a left shoulder strain a day earlier, manager Brandon Hyde was forced into a bullpen game for the second time in three days with lefty Sean Gilmartin opening Friday’s tilt against the Mariners.

The hard-throwing Scott had gotten on a role for the Tides in recent weeks, pitching to a 1.96 ERA and striking out 22 batters over his last 18 1/3 innings. The 24-year-old has struck out a very impressive 13.1 batters per nine innings over 61 2/3 frames in the majors, but control problems and extreme inconsistency prompted demotions both at the end of spring training and after a 2 1/2-week stint with Baltimore in April.

Scott had a 3.57 ERA with 27 strikeouts and 10 walks in 22 2/3 innings with Norfolk this season, but he will need to improve upon his career 5.69 mark in the majors to stick with the Orioles this time around.

Kline, 27, making his major league debut two months ago was an uplifting story after his well-chronicled injury history in the minors, but his initial success in the majors was fleeting as he had been scored upon in five straight appearances with the Orioles before being optioned to the Baysox earlier this month. The right-hander has a 5.89 ERA in 18 1/3 innings with Baltimore this season.

Fry had been one of Hyde’s few trusted relievers all season until he’d surrendered six earned runs in his last five appearances covering 2 1/3 innings. The 26-year-old lefty owns a 4.75 ERA in 30 1/3 innings this season and wouldn’t figure to be in the minors for long.

Phillips had been recalled for his fifth stint with the Orioles Thursday before once again being sent out. He has a 7.79 ERA in 17 1/3 innings for Baltimore in 2019.

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Twelve Orioles thoughts on struggling pitching staff

Posted on 12 April 2019 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles having lost seven of eight before embarking on their second road trip of the season, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts on the pitching staff, each in 50 words or less:

1. Chris Davis’ record hitless streak is national news, but allowing 37 home runs in 13 games borders on the unthinkable. No other team entered Friday surrendering more than 26. The major league record for a season is 258 allowed by Cincinnati in 2016; Baltimore’s current pace is 461.

2. Watching Dylan Bundy strike out five — four on sliders — and not allow a hit the first time through the order before giving up four home runs Thursday makes you wonder if he’s better suited to relieve. It could help an average fastball velocity that’s down to 90.8 miles per hour.

3. Miguel Castro has never missed as many bats as you’d expect despite a mid-90s fastball and a slider that’s often shown good movement, but he’s been a mess so far. After posting a solid 3.77 ERA the previous two years, Castro should have been ready to graduate rather than regress.

4. There was never a guarantee Richard Bleier would be ready for the start of 2019 following last June’s lat surgery, so sending him to the injured list with shoulder tendinitis is the responsible move. He and that sinker that sparked a 1.97 ERA the last three seasons clearly weren’t right.

5. Brandon Hyde expressed optimism about Alex Cobb’s back issue not lingering beyond the 10-day minimum, but even a rebuilding club still needs starters to eat innings and provide stability. Especially with a contract that will be difficult to move, Cobb needs to be a big part of that.

6. Many expected Mychal Givens to be the closer, but Hyde said he “wants to use Mike when the game’s on the line,” whether that’s the ninth inning or sooner. It’s a refreshing stance, especially for a club without the options to have a paint-by-numbers bullpen like Buck Showalter enjoyed.

7. Even having pitched his first two games as an “opener” and being on a schedule, Nate Karns showed diminished velocity in each of his outings before going to the IL with forearm tightness. You hope for the best, but his injury history is why he was available for $800,000.

8. Paul Fry has been the Orioles’ best reliever so far with a 1.59 ERA in 5 2/3 innings and the highest game-entering leverage index on the team, an indication of the kind of game situations in which Hyde has used the lefty. He was a nice find by Dan Duquette.

9. Despite the apparent Houston influence from Mike Elias and Sig Mejdal that has Andrew Cashner throwing more sliders and fewer fastballs, his swinging-strike percentage has decreased from last year. The veteran just isn’t missing bats, which makes it much more challenging to succeed.

10. John Means pitched into some bad luck in his first start, but he’s been a pleasant surprise early, especially with a changeup that’s fetched 18 swinging strikes out of the 73 times he’s thrown it. Hyde wants to give him more starting opportunities.

11. The Dan Straily signing made sense for a club eyeing rotation stability and a possible trade chip, but he’s allowed 10 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. His spring was disrupted by Miami releasing him, but he probably needs to lean more on his changeup to be successful.

12. If the intention behind optioning Tanner Scott to Triple-A Norfolk after a poor spring was to make him succeed at that level after he originally went from Double A to the majors, recalling him after just two appearances for the Tides didn’t seem to make much sense.

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