At least the Baltimore Orioles had Hunter Harvey available out of the bullpen.
Mychal Givens– C+
Either Givens just can’t go more than one inning or he isn’t meant to be a closer, or both. Whatever the issue was, Givens struggled for much of this past season. His strikeout rate skyrocketed to 33.1%, but one of his biggest issues was the longball. Givens allowed 0.49 HR/9 IP last season. That number increased to 1.86 HR/9 IP this season. The Orioles tried to move him early on, but failed to find a deal that worked. Expect to hear the Givens rumor mill crank up again shortly.
You just want to grab Miguel Castro, shake him, and yell at him to put it all together until you’re blue in the face. He has dominant stuff, but hasn’t been able to produce, yet. After the All-Star break, Castro posted a 3.72 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP, and a 183 average against. His strikeouts were up and his home runs were down, but his walk rate also increased. Overall, his second-half improvements were fairly decent, enough to provide the slightest bit of optimism heading into spring training.
Bleier’s numbers are interesting, largely due to his low walk rate (3.4%), high groundball rate (60%), and a FIP (4.19) more than a full run lower than his ERA (5.37). However, Bleier struck out 12.8% of hitters and allowed a lot of contact, resulting in a .291 average against. It was his first full season back from a major injury, but he’s now on the roster bubble as he heads into arbitration.
Paul Fry– D
A 1-9 record, 5.34 ERA, and more than 4.5 BB/9 IP aren’t inspiring numbers from someone you hope to be a reliable bullpen piece in the future. Fry is a high spin rate guy with a slider that produced results in 2019 (.190 average against, 30% whiff rate) and he keeps the ball on the ground. The results just weren’t there for him this season. He recorded a 7.06 ERA and 1.85 WHIP after the All-Star break.
Shawn Armstrong– C+
Claimed off waivers from Seattle at the same time as Seattle traded for Mike Wright, Armstrong was a much better pitcher than Wright in Baltimore. He had a few outings which went downhill pretty fast, but overall, Armstrong was one of the better bullpen options in 2019. In three of his 51 outings, he gave up four earned runs, which won’t help your overall numbers as a reliever. He did put up 23 outings over 1+ IP and 0 ER.
Gabriel Ynoa– D-
I was leading the Ynoa hype train to start the season, but I was forced to jump off early. Ynoa went 0-9 as a starter and posted a similar ERA, WHIP, and average against as a reliever. Oh well.
Tanner Scott- B-
Scott really turned a corner late in the year, pitching to a 2.98 ERA (2.81 FIP) in Triple-A before giving up four runs on seven hits in 9.1 September innings in the bigs. He struck out 14 and walked just three, a fantastic number for someone who has struggled with command in his career. Scott gets a B- for his improvements, slashing his WHIP from 2.29 to 1.40 and his average against from .319 to .241 from pre-All-Star to post-All-Star break. Averaging more than 12.5 K/9 IP, Scott will have one more opportunity to prove himself in 2020. If September Tanner Scott shows up, hallelujah.
Healthy. Electric. Dominant. Elite hair. Harvey’s MLB debut was a real bright spot in 2019, despite being cut short due to soreness. After pitching 12 innings in 2016, 18 in 2017, and 32 in 2018, Harvey racked up 82 innings between AA/AAA and the bigs, so the soreness isn’t anything to be worried about, we hope. The bullpen was a disaster in 2019, but Harvey is the first piece of a promising group of young arms who hope to bring stability to the late innings of games.
The Maryland-native struggled during his rookie season, ending with a 5.93 ERA, walking more than 4/9 IP, and allowing a hair under 2 HR/9 IP. His story is amazing, but he found little success until September. In nine innings, Kline gave up no runs on six hits, striking out three and walking six.
Dillon Tate– Incomplete
Tate began the year as a starter, missed some time due to injury, came back as a dominant reliever in the minor leagues. His MLB debut featured an 0-2 record, 6.43 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 21 innings. Let’s give him a full offseason and spring training to prepare as a full-time reliever before making a big assessment of Tate. He’s still promising.