The Orioles added yet another arm to their bullpen on Friday, signing reliever Luis Ayala to a one-year contract with a team option for 2013.
Ayala gives the Orioles five right-hander late-inning relievers, joining Jim Johnson, Matt Lindstrom, Kevin Gregg, Pedro Strop and Alfredo Simon.
But Ayala, who was 2-2 with a 2.09 ERA in 56 innings last season with the Yankees, serves a unique purpose, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said.
“Ayala has a good sinker and he gets his off-speed stuff over and he gets out righties and lefties,” Duquette said. “We have now two veterans (with Lindstrom) that we’ve added to the pen which gives us a stronger bullpen and more depth.
“I like the idea of having the power arms in the bullpen but I also like the idea of having Ayala available to the manager. A lot of games are won and lost when you change that starting pitcher. But if you have a sinkerballer in the bullpen, he can come in and get you out of some jams by using that sinker to get a double play.”
Ayala, who has a career 3.47 ERA, found his sinkerball last season in New York. His ground outs-to-air outs ratio was 1.43, well over the MLB average of 1.07. His double play percentage was 17 percent, also above the MLB average (11 percent).A Mexico native, Ayala is also coming of an impressive season in the Mexican winter league, where he tallied 12 saves and pitched to a 0.92 ERA in 19 2/3 innings.