Happy Monday, Baltimore Orioles fans! We’re five days from the first spring training game, and the O’s…might not have a closer?
Early in the offseason, most of us would’ve predicted that Givens was in line to get the majority of save opportunities this year, but as has become the trend in Major League Baseball, teams are shifting toward using their best relievers in the highest-leverage spots, rather than saving them for the 9th inning.
When the game is on the line, you want your best available pitcher on the mound. Sometimes that situation comes in the 9th inning, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Mychal Givens is as likely as any to be the best reliever on the 2019 Orioles. Using him in high-leverage spots, regardless of which inning the O’s find themselves in, is a great idea.
To be fair, we don’t expect that the Orioles will get Givens, or whoever their closer will be, a ton of save opportunities this year.
Based on the eye test, and almost every projection system in the industry, the Orioles project to be the worst team in baseball in 2019, so some experimentation is expected and encouraged.
But this one shouldn’t be a hard sell to O’s fans. After all, we watched Buck Showalter leave the best pitcher on the 2016 Orioles in the bullpen, holding out for a save situation and ultimately leading to an early postseason exit. I’m not a big fan of bashing players or coaches, but that’s an unforgivable mistake, Buck. 100% on you, bud.
No, there’s no resentment there, why do you ask? Anyway.
This is just another step in the Orioles finally taking an analytical approach to the game, and trying to find competitive advantages to help them win ball games.
More from Birds Watcher
- Baltimore Orioles Sign RP Mychal Givens
- Gunnar Henderson: Destroyer of Four-Seam Fastballs
- Which Current Baltimore Orioles Pitchers Have the Best Curveballs?
- Orioles News: Should the O’s Pursue Eovaldi? + More MLB News
- Should the Baltimore Orioles Consider Signing Nathan Eovaldi?
As mentioned, Givens should be one of the best relievers in Baltimore this year and he should be used accordingly. Steamer doesn’t love him, projecting Givens for what would be a career-low 24.8% strikeout rate with a 4.05 ERA.
Givens’ strikeouts fell off last year but his velocity is still consistent. He works in the mid-to-high 90’s, and when the slider is working, it’s an above average pitch.
Givens has the tools to become a fireman. Per Baseball Reference, he’s held batters to a .220 average-against in high-leverage situations thus far in his career, and with two outs and runners in scoring position, that average-against drops to .157.
He’s as good a candidate as the Orioles have for this kind of role, and while it may take some adjusting, Givens should thrive as a fireman.
The Orioles will have plenty of opportunities to experiment with the bullpen and the roster in 2019. The should take advantage of it, and if that means using Mychal Givens in a fireman-type role, then we’re all for it.