If you’ve been following the Orioles this season, of course you have heard about bullpen stars Yennier Cano and Felix Bautista, but there is one reliever who has not been given the full credit he deserves. That pitcher is Danny Coulombe, who is silently playing to the tune of a 2.08 ERA with 31 strikeouts over 21.2 IP.
Coulombe, similar to other members of the Orioles bullpen, joined the team in a unique way: he was a waiver wire addition. This March, just three days before Opening Day, GM Mike Elias and the Orioles scooped him from the Minnesota Twins as the Birds were finalizing their roster for the 2023 season.
Baltimore Orioles acquisition of Danny Coulombe looking like a under the radar strong addition
The left-hander came to Baltimore at 33-years-old, having played in eight MLB seasons. Spending time with the Dodgers, Athletics and Twins, his career ERA was a serviceable 3.92 over 194 appearances, producing a career-high 13 holds in 2017.
This year, Coulombe has transformed himself greatly, becoming the most reliable set-up man for the elite arms at the back of the bullpen in Cano and Bautista. As of June 3, Coulombe is averaging 13 K/9 with opponents hitting just .210 against him, already with 11 holds.
Coulombe’s go-to pitches in his filthy slider and sweeper, which he throws 68-percent of the time, allow him to rank among baseball’s most effective relievers. He sits in the 100th percentile in hard-hit percentage and 99th percentile for average exit velocity.
Grouped with Cano and Bautista, the trio is among the best back-end bullpen groups in all of baseball. The three relievers were on full display in the win over San Francisco Friday night, combining for three scoreless innings, with Coulombe punching out all three batters he faced. Coulombe now has a 1.02 WHIP, second among Orioles relievers behind Cano.
Coulombe’s success is coming after a 2022 season in which he only appeared in 10 games due to a left hip injury, making this year’s production even more impressive. If Cano and Bautista were not pitching at such dominant rates, each top-10 among qualified relievers in ERA (entering 6/2), maybe Coulombe would be more celebrated by Orioles fans.
Cano and Bautista are each in the conversation to be honored as MLB All-Stars in July, and deservedly so, but is it a stretch to include Coulombe in that conversation too? Coulombe deserves a little more recognition for the work he has done as their table-setter and as an elite out-collector this season. The Orioles have an abundance of riches at the back of their bullpen, a major factor that has propelled them towards success this season.