Kevin Gausman struggled through four innings throwing 80 pitches and was lifte..."/> Kevin Gausman struggled through four innings throwing 80 pitches and was lifte..."/>

Baltimore Orioles: Bullpen still quiet MVP


Photo: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Last night the Orioles’ young hurler Kevin Gausman struggled through four innings throwing 80 pitches and was lifted before the fifth. The pessimistic Orioles fan could point to the fact that Gausman has now failed to get past five innings in 3 of his last four starts and had an ERA of nearly five over that span. However, what might be lost to many who watched the game was another brilliant performance from the bullpen.

In five innings T.J McFarland, Darren O’Day and Tommy Hunter allowed no runs on just three hits and no walks. That’s not normal for most teams. For most teams a starter exiting after four innings would be a disaster. However, Orioles relievers continually putting up zeroes is something that’s become an everyday occurrence.

Everybody around Birdland is well aware of the tremendous seasons Zach Britton and Darren O’Day are having, but somehow as of late they seem to be pitching even better. It seems impossible, but Darren O’Day has given up one earned run since June. He’s allowed nine baserunners in all of August. Britton has allowed only four earned runs this month, and three came on one three run homer. Also, that home run was one of only three hits he’s allowed this month.

But it hasn’t just been the back of the pen. Brad Brach and T.J. McFarland, who pitched so well last night, have been tremendous in the long-relief role, many times pitching multiple innings and saving Buck from having to use another arm. In August, McFarland has lowered his ERA almost 70 points and Brach hasn’t given up an earned run.

With the accusation of Andrew Miller, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter move into roles where they are more effective and probably more comfortable. Matusz has moved into a strictly lefty-matchup role, the same role he was so dominant in 2012. Matusz started out the season slow, but has now allowed two earned runs since June.

Tommy Hunter struggled mightily in the closer role and at one point looked like he didn’t have a true spot in the bullpen at all. However, he has regained his confidence over the course of the season, and become the power, late-inning arm the Orioles have seen in the past. His biggest issue since moving to the pen has been his inability to consistently get left-handed hitters out. However, with Miller now in the Birds’ pen Hunter can be used as a power-arm exclusively against righties.

As a whole the Orioles now lead the American League in holds and are third in the league in percentage of inherited runners who have scored, two enormously important stats for any bullpen. One of the biggest differences between the 2012 season and the 2013 season was the bullpen. It went from a strength to a weakness. The bullpen seems to be something that’s sometimes only noticed when it’s struggling. However, it could be an incredible advantage in the high-pressure, close games in October.