Since right-handed pitcher Chris Jakubauskas relocated to the bullpen from the starting rotation at the beginning of July, he’s claimed a new role as one of the top relievers and long-men in the jumbled Baltimore Orioles’ bullpen.
As a starting pitcher this season, he sports a 2-2 record with an inflated 6.91 ERA in six outings and opponents are hitting .315 off of him. Jakubauskas has tossed 27.1 innings as a starter while allowing 21 earned runs on 35 base hits, including four homeruns, 12 walks and 20 strike outs.
In contrast, as a reliever, he holds a 3.66 ERA in 39.1 innings and he’s allowed only 16 earned runs on 46 base hits, including five homeruns, 13 walks and 28 strike outs. Over his 21 relief appearances, opponents are hitting .299 off of the California native.
Not only has Jakubauskas posted better and more consistent numbers as a reliever, but he put together a very impressive month of August for an Oriole reliever. In nine games, he pitched to a 1.13 ERA as he allowed only two earned runs over 16 innings of work.
Opponents are hitting at a .200 clip over the first 30 days of the month, and he’s allowed only 11 base hits, four walks and 13 strike outs. Not to mention, he’s served up only one homerun this month, and it came in his last outing against the Bronx Bombers.
In August, Jakubauskas twice appeared in at least three consecutive games without allowing an earned run. From August 2nd to August 13th, he appeared in four games and tossed 9.1 innings, while serving up only four base hits and not allowing an earned run.
From August 20th to August 25th, Jakubauskas pitched 4.2 innings over three outings and yielded only three base hits without surrendering an earned run.
Jakubauskas began the season out of the pen for the Birds, but he only lasted three games before being demoted to the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. In his three April outings, he tossed 7.1 innings, allowed six earned runs, surrendered 9 base hits, served up two homeruns, walked four and struck out four.
He didn’t last too long in the majors as the Orioles demoted him after he tossed a one-hit shutout inning against the Indians on April 16th. He spent about a month down at Triple-A and was recalled just for one game in mid-May, but he was kicked around in his return.
Jakubauskas tossed 3.1 innings in relief against the Yankees on May 19th, and he allowed three earned runs on seven base hits, one homerun, two walks and one strike out. After the game, the Birds again sent him packing back to Norfolk.
Finally, after spending a couple of more weeks with the Tides, the Birds recalled Jakubauskas once and for all on June 3rd. In his first game back with the ballclub, he tossed two shutout innings against the Blue Jays.
Buck Showalter quickly changed Jakubauskas’ role as the Birds’ manager gave him a shot at the rotation. For the remainder of June, he spent his time as a starter.
Although he debuted well against the Athletics on June 7th, his fortunes quickly changed for the worst. In his first outing, he tossed five scoreless innings, yielded three base hits, walked only one Athletic and struck out five for his first win of the season.
But, over his next five outings in the rotation, Jakubauskas struggled to pitch as effectively as he did in his debut. He tossed 22.1 innings (4.46 innings per start), surrendered 16 earned runs and scattered 27 base hits.
Jakubauskas allowed three or more earned runs in each of those appearances and he surrendered more than three earned runs in three of those outings. In his last start against the Rangers, he lasted only two innings and allowed six earned runs on seven base hits on July 4th.
Since his last start, Jakubauskas has pitched like a different man out there on the mound. In 26.2 innings since July 4th, he’s given up only seven earned runs on 28 hits, including two homeruns, seven walks and 21 strike outs.
Jakubauskas has recorded even better numbers since the All-Star break! In 14 games since the mid-summer classic, he’s pitched 23.2 innings, and he’s allowed six earned runs on 25 hits. Opponents are hitting at a .275 clip and he’s walked only six, compared to 20 strike outs.
He’s recorded at least one strike out in 15 consecutive outings (21 overall) and has really limited the amount of walks he’s issued (only seven over that stretch and only four in the entire month of August).
At the beginning of the season, one of Jakubauskas’ problems was his control as he was issuing more walks than strike outs. Over his six starts, he issued 12 free passes (two per start) and as a reliever, he’s tossed 21 innings and only allowed 13 walks. Since his transition to the bullpen in July, he’s struck out 21 and handed out only seven walks over that stretch.
Since making his home in the bullpen, Jakubauskas has only pitched less than one full inning on one occasion, and that occurred in his last appearance against the Yankees as he relieved struggling Brian Matusz. Five times he’s tossed more than two innings in an appearance, and twice he’s pitched three or more innings.
Overall on the season, Jakubauskas’ numbers aren’t much to look at or be impressed with; he’s 2-2 with a 5.00 ERA as he’s tossed 66.2 innings, allowed 37 earned runs, walked 48 and struck out 25.
But, his numbers as of late (when it counts the most in the season), have been very impressive. He sports the second lowest ERA on the team at 1.13 this month, and ahead of reliever Brad Bergesen (1.26). Both relievers’ Mike Gonzalez and Jason Berken have yet to allow an earned run this month. (Berken has only four appearances, and Gonzalez was traded today).
So, overall, Jakubauskas is heating up at the right time for the Birds as we’re heading into the last month of the season and we’re preparing for next season. He impressed the organization with his staggering August stats, and needs to keep up his good work if he wants to secure a spot in the bullpen for the coming year.
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