Baltimore Orioles: Pitching Changes and the Dedicated Closer
The Baltimore Orioles pitching staff continues to change as Mike Elias keeps making moves.
The latest Baltimore Orioles moves include bringing up rookie from Maryland and moving down a familiar and popular name.
In an unexpected, but understandable decision, Elias DFA’d Asher Wojciechowski. The 31-year-old right-hander was a go-to pitcher for Brandon Hyde. But in 2020, he struggled to get outs. His 6.81 ERA and WHIP of 1.622 was just too much for the Orioles.
With the young pitchers outperforming many of the veterans, this decision had to be in the wings. The success from Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer made Wojo unnecessary as a starter. So, Hyde gave him a shot in the pen, but Travis Lakins, Cole Sulser, Tanner Scott, and the rest outperformed him, too.
Calling Up Maryland Natives
In exciting news that lasted for one evening, two more pitchers were called up along with Bruce Zimmermann. All of them are Maryland natives. Evan Phillips is from Salisbury, and Branden Kline is from Frederick. Both relievers are technically not rookies, but they have been at the alternate site waiting for a spot that became available with the Rays double-header.
The Orioles acquired Phillips in the Darren O’Day and Kevin Gausman trade with the Braves. He pitched 12.1 innings with the Orioles this year, and 28 innings in 2019. With the Orioles, he’s built an ERA of 7.09.
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Kline was drafted in 2012 by the Orioles. He lost his rookie status in 2019 after 41 inning. His ERA in 2019 was 5.93. Just as fast as they were called up, they were sent back down the very next day.
Zimmermann debuted on Thursday in Game 2 of the double header. He pitched three innings, but gave up a few too many runs.
Selecting a Closer
It looks like Hyde may have selected a closer. For the past two years, he’s been using a variety of relievers in the role. The 35-year-old right-hander Cesar Valdez has been stymieing batters with his slow fast ball that dies once it gets near the plate. He hadn’t allowed a run in over 11 innings of work, with the Rays hitting their first run off of him on Thursday evening in the first game of the double-header.
His change up has made him a surprisingly good addition to the roster. He’s been nothing but good, even in the Thursday game. Hopefully, his role as closer will help the O’s get more wins.