Baltimore Orioles: Getting To Know The New Guy, Cole Sulser

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 11: Cole Sulser #71 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the eighth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 11, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 11: Cole Sulser #71 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the eighth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 11, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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The Baltimore Orioles wasted no time in filling in their open spot on the 40-man roster.

We thought yesterday’s removal of RHP Chandler Shepherd from the roster was just the first of a series of moves the Baltimore Orioles are expected to make over the next few weeks to clear space on the 40-man roster for Rule 5 draft-eligible players to be added. Instead, the Orioles have used the open roster spot to bring in someone new.

Per an official team release, the Baltimore Orioles have added RHP Cole Sulser off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays. Listed at 6’1″ and 190 pounds, Sulser is a former 25th-round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians back in 2013, where he worked his way up to Triple-A before being dealt to Tampa Bay last offseason (part of the three-team deal with TB, CLE, and Seattle involving Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Santana).

Sulser, 29, made his major league debut this year, appearing in seven games for the Rays this September. He was effective in his short tenure, throwing 7.1 shutout innings while allowing five hits and three walks. He struck out nine along the way.

Across six minor league seasons, Sulser worked a 3.91 ERA and 513 strikeouts in 444.1 innings. In his last two seasons at the Triple-A level, Sulser has recorded a strikeout rate of 35.8% and 32.6%, while posting a FIP nearly two runs lower than his ERA in 2018 (4.53 ERA/2.42 FIP) and holding steady with a 2.94 FIP this season with the Durham Bulls (3.27 ERA).

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According to Baseball Savant, Sulser is a three-pitch reliever, working with a four-seam fastball (64% usage), slider (27% usage), and changeup (9%) in his repertoire. His fastball averaged 93.4 mph, limited opponents to a .063 batting average (.058 expected average), and produced a whiff rate of 29%.

Saying the Baltimore Orioles bullpen struggled in 2019 is an understatement. We can likely expect to see a lot of turnover with this group through the offseason. Sulser joins former New York Met reliever Eric Hanhold as the second recent addition to the group of relievers who the Orioles will turn to in 2020 as they try and find a collection of arms that work.

With three options remaining and impressive strikeout numbers, it’s easy to see what made him an attractive option to Mike Elias and the Orioles. Welcome to Birdland, Cole Sulser!

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