Following Pedro Strop's forgettable eighth-inning performance in the Orioles' 10-6 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night, the right-handed setup man immediately retreated to the clubhouse film room to review his performance.
Nobody needs to tell the 27-year-old reliever that he isn't pitching well. Despite some unsettling wildness, Strop's 23 holds are tied for fifth-most in the American League. But he has blown leads in two of his last three outings, both against the Yankees.
Strop's ineffectiveness nearly cost the Orioles a critical win Thursday. He entered in the eighth inning of a 6-2 game needing just one out to get out of the frame. But Strop allowed two inherited runners to score and then yielded two more runs, allowing the Yankees to tie the game.
All season long, Strop has helped anchor the back of the Orioles bullpen. Along with closer Jim Johnson, who has 41 saves, Strop is a main reason why the Orioles are 61-0 when they lead after seven innings.
Strop's high-90s two-seam sinking fastball, with a lot of late movement, is his best pitch. This year, he has not been afraid to throw it in any count. But when Strop loses control of the pitch, trouble ensues.
"You just try to have a long memory about how good these guys have been, but also understand with 20-something games left, we're going to ride what needs to be ridden," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
After watching Thursday's outing on film, Strop said he's opening up too quickly in his delivery, taking away the control on his sinker. On Thursday, he faced just four batters and issued two walks, including a bases-loaded four-pitch walk to Chris Dickerson. All four pitches to Dickerson were sinkers.
"The only thing I can do is find out a way to get back on track and be the same guy I've been the whole season," Strop said. "In the moment, whenever you're there, before you come in and come watch video, you're worrying because you're not doing what you're supposed to do."
"[Friday] I'm going to come with the same energy and I'm going to be the same guy," he added. "I'm not going to be thinking about [Thursday]. [Thursday] is over. We got the win. I couldn't do the job that I was expected to do. But we got the win, which is the most important."
Thursday's outing came after Strop blew a 3-2 lead in New York on Saturday. In that game, he walked the first two batters he faced, the second one on a bases-loaded walk to Derek Jeter that tied the game. J.J. Hardy's rare fielding error scored the winning run in the 4-3 loss at Yankee Stadium.
Strop has thrown 59 innings this season, by far the most he's thrown at the major league level. He threw 69 2/3 innings last season, but only 22 of them were at the major league level between the Rangers and Orioles.
Despite his struggles, Showalter expressed confidence in Strop.
"Certainly, we all know what a great job [Strop has] done for us this year coming into the middle of an inning or starting an inning," Showalter said. "Sometimes, he has some command issues regardless of how you bring him in, but you always like the finished product. We're fortunate to have multiple people who have been doing a good job for us and we'll continue to use them in that role."