Baltimore Orioles pitcher Oliver Drake impressed the O’s in 2016. Now, it will be up to him to see if he can stay on the Orioles 25-man roster.
Like many players, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Oliver Drake started from the bottom. And because Drake is out of minor league options, he’s here to compete for a job.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter implied he was going to carry 10 to 11 pitchers in the bullpen because the team won’t need a fifth starter. Drake said he doesn’t know whether he’s going to be in the bullpen this season, but he wants to make an impression.
Drake said the following on “The Hot Stove Show” on 105.7 The Fan:
"“I really haven’t given much thought to it,” he said last week on the “Hot Stove Show” on 105.7 The Fan. “I’m going into spring knowing that if I’m going to get a spot, I’m going to earn it, and I have to go out there and pitch well and show the coaching staff that I belong in the big leagues. I don’t think I’m going to make the team because I’m out of options or any other way than earning that spot.”"
Drake allowed two earned runs and struck out 14 batters in 11.1 innings. That covered all of September and October 1st.
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"“I really just focused on getting ahead early in the count, and once I was comfortable doing that and throwing my fastball for strikes, and quality strikes, not just pitches over the middle where the major league hitters can do some damage, but getting ahead, that really helped.“My split-finger, guys would chase it out of the zone and then I was able to throw that over the strike zone, as well. It was just a lot easier pitching like that. You get ahead, throw strikes, get quick outs and you kind of get the momentum going your way.”"
Surprisingly, not many pitchers in the Major Leagues can throw a forkball.
However, Drake likes calling it a splitter, even though it’s not thrown in a typical fashion.
"“I call it a splitter,” he said. “A lot of other people and coaches especially have called it a forkball because it’s not your traditional split-finger that’s hard and kind of dives. Mine kind of tumbles and moves a lot. But I fiddle with it. I have different ones that can kind of dive out of the zone that I’m looking to get a swing and miss or a strikeout. And then I have another one where I throw it over the plate and try to get it in the zone and hopefully get some weak contact.”"
Drake is going to spend the Spring competing for a spot and making adjustments when needed. Hopefully by the time Spring Training ends, he’ll have earned a job on the Orioles roster.
If not, Drake might have to find that opportunity someplace else.