He is too much of a mess right now to be trusted in high-leverage relief situations. But he is also too talented, he throws too hard for them to slip him by 29 other teams if they tried to send him down to the minor leagues.
The reality is, though, the Orioles missed on an opportunity to help Strop out, to keep him away from situations like the one he came into Wednesday, when he quickly allowed four runs and an Orioles victory to slip away.
Strop could be in the minor leagues already, trying to regain his confidence on a rehab assignment. Instead, the Orioles, who were in need of a reliever Saturday, activated Strop from the disabled list.
Strop had been dealing with what was described as a lower back strain, though my colleague Kevin Cowherd suspects that the flamethrower’s injury could have had more to do with a "strained ERA."
Instead of rushing him back, they could have sent Strop on a rehab assignment. He could have worked on his game in front of hundreds of fans instead of thousands, far away from the boo birds and bright lights at Camden Yards. His control has been a mess this season, but confidence is really what this kid needs right now.
After all, while he was on the disabled list, the Orioles asked Strop to throw from the shortstop position so he could replicate his natural throwing motion without thinking too much about it.
Now that confidence is probably cracked even more. After allowing a rare four-run triple to Erick Aybar and a two-run home run from Albert Pujols, Strop was booed by the fed-up crowd at Camden Yards as he was yanked from the game.
“Not good,” Strop said after the game. “Only thing I can say. I couldn’t do the job.”
Strop's ERA has ballooned to 7.58, the highest among the team's regular relievers. He has allowed 18 hits and walked 15 batters in 19 innings while striking out just 19 guys.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter can’t trust Strop to pitch a big inning right now, so Strop will have to get his groove back in garbage time, presumably.
But the problem is that the Orioles already have enough mop-up guys in the bullpen. As much as they would like to, they can’t keep trotting out the same four relievers in the late innings every single night.
The Orioles are stuck with Strop in a bullpen that needs another reliable arm or two to keep everyone fresh.
Only he can fix what is ailing him, but the Orioles did him no favors by throwing him right back to the wolves.