Forgotten Orioles reliever making statement with spotless spring

Don't discount this reliever as he makes a push for a roster spot.

Aug 12, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Mike Baumann (53) pitches during a game against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park
Aug 12, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Mike Baumann (53) pitches during a game against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park / Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
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Roster spots in the starting rotation and bullpen have opened for the Orioles during spring training due to injuries hitting the pitching staff. With plenty of players vying for very few spots, every outing counts for those looking to make their claim on a roster spot.

Last season, Mike Baumann was in the same spot. He converted from a starting pitcher to a reliever to try and increase his chances of being in the majors. It worked out well for Baumann last year. This year, he's off to a similarly hot start, but this run is even better than last year, which is great news for him and the Orioles as he tries to lock down a spot on the Opening Day roster.

So far this spring, Baumann has appeared in four games and thrown 4 2/3 innings. He has only allowed one baserunner all spring, that being a walk to former Oriole Jahmai Jones in Monday's loss to the New York Yankees.

Mike Baumann is impressing once again with a perfect spring

Baumann retired all 13 batters he faced this spring before Jones came to the plate on Monday. He threw 1 2/3 innings on Monday, his longest appearance of the spring. He has five strikeouts in his 4 2/3 innings and is a strong candidate for a bullpen spot because of his performance and because he has no minor league options remaining.

The pitches Baumann showcased were also getting good marks on the radar gun. According to Roch Kubatko, he induced a strikeout on an 88.7 mph knuckle curve while also getting punchouts on a 97.3 mph and a 98 mph fastball on Monday, an encouraging sign for his velocity so far.

Despite being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk toward the end of 2023, Baumann still had a good year in the Orioles bullpen. He had a 3.76 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 60 appearances, throwing 64 2/3 innings. His win-loss record was 10-1, but nine of his wins came before he got his only loss of the year, giving him a place in the Orioles record books.

With an opportunity in front of Baumann this year to take a permanent spot in the Orioles bullpen, he's off to a great start. If he can sustain it, he'll be a reliable middle relief option for a bullpen in flux at the start of the year.

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