Sports Outside the Beltway

O’s what a relief it is

Back in February Geoff Young wrote in the Hardball Times

This was simply a case of a guy who had been good before finding health and returning to previous levels—sort of like Soriano, but with more of a record of success. Ironically, while his team gave Soriano away this past winter, Bradford cashed in with a long-term deal from the Orioles, who spent most of the off-season pursuing expensive bullpen options. If you want a primer on how not to build a bullpen, just look at Baltimore’s moves over the past several months.

However yesterday Baseball Musings noticed that the spending might have been high but so far, it’s been working out very well.

The relievers struck out four and walked one, giving them 51 K and 18 walks in 53 1/3 innings. I’ll take that from any bullpen.

A few days ago, Baltimore Sun Columnist John Eisenberg noticed the same thing.

While it’s still too soon to make a definitive judgment, things are looking up for the Orioles’ bullpen. It has a 3.35 ERA after last night’s game in St. Petersburg, Fla., as opposed to last season’s 5.25 figure. Throw out the April 7 fiasco in New York and this year’s number is really low.

Closer Chris Ray is happy

“It’s unbelievable,” said Ray, who has allowed one base runner in six appearances since surrendering the walk-off grand slam to New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez on April 7. “My job is a heck of a lot easier when you have all those guys before me going in there, setting the tempo, and keeping the momentum on our side and keeping the score the same when it gets to me. I’m throwing just one inning instead of an inning plus. The guys behind me are getting guys out left and right.”

Going back to the original article it’s pretty clear that the Orioles overpaid for their relief help, however as John Eisenberg observed

As I said, it’s still early and there are going to be hiccups, but protecting a larger percentage of their leads could propel the Orioles close to .500. The fact that they had to overpay doesn’t matter. After years of botching patches, the sight of a solid bullpen is priceless.

Overspending can be forgiven if you’re winning. Last year the Orioles had 20 blown saves. They had a clear problem and so they addressed it.

I’m no fan of the team’s management, but so far the relief upgrade seems to be working. The biggest caveat is that they’re throwing a lot of innings right now. If the starters don’t start going longer the relievers could find themselves wearing out too soon. At the best I don’t expect the Orioles to do better than .500. But given the past 9 years, that would be something.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.

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