Ayala not just another late-inning arm

The Baltimore Sun

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.

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