Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
If you are a baseball fan and more importantly a Baltimore Orioles fan, you would know that the Birds have been tearing things up since the All-Star Break. After dropping two out of three to Oakland, the Orioles have won eight consecutive series in a row, including two division series against Toronto and, most recently, New York.
The Orioles currently sit atop the American League East with the biggest division lead in all of baseball at 7.5 games. Everything is “clicking on all cylinders” for the O’s. The home runs are getting hit, the defense is playing well, and the starting pitching has a “bend but don’t break” mentality. Most of all, when Baltimore gets deep into the game and the team has to rely on the bullpen, the relievers are almost always lights-out.
In the words of Earl Weaver, this team has “deep depth.” No matter if the catcher goes down or third baseman; Buck Showalter can throw in someone that is just as good who Showalter can trust in to help this club win ball games. This goes for the bullpen as well. Showalter has endless options when it comes to who to put on the mound in the later innings.
Looking at some of the relievers’ numbers, it is easy to see why Baltimore is on top of the AL East.
- Zach Britton– 2.11 ERA; 25 saves; 52 strikeouts
- Darren O’Day– 1.01 ERA; 4-1 record; 55 strikeouts
- Brad Brach– 2.78 ERA; 4-0 record; 39 strikeouts
- Andrew Miller– 1.80 ERA; only two hits given up in five innings of work; seven strikeouts
This bullpen depth extends down to Norfolk with the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate, the Tides.
- Ryan Webb– 3.00 ERA; 6.0 innings pitched; 5 strikeouts
- Ramon Ramirez– 2.28 ERA; 23 2/3 innings pitched; 30 strikeouts
- Evan Meek– 2.21 ERA; 36 2/3 innings pitched; 32 strikeouts
The recent signing of Joe Saunders to the Tides as a reliever is initially proving to be worthwhile. In his first three games with the team, Saunders has pitched 5 1/3 innings. He has a 1.69 ERA; allowing just one run in his first game with the Tides where he pitched two innings of relief.
Tonight, the Tides won in a 4-2 game over the Buffalo Bisons. Saunders helped keep Buffalo at bay when he came into the game in the sixth inning to relieve starter, Chris Jones. Once on the mound, he retired the first three batters he faced to end the sixth inning with the Tides holding onto a 4-1 lead.
After walking the lead-off batter in seven pitches, Saunders proceeded to force the next batter to ground out into a patented “6-4-3” double play. Two pitches later, the next batter suffered the same fate as the previous one with a ground out to end the inning.
If pitchers in Norfolk continue to have outings such as these, then Baltimore’s bullpen depth will become even more formidable once October baseball comes around.