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Face-Off: Patience with 'Petey' is key

I know there are plenty of steaming mad Orioles fans waiting to read about Pedro Strop's transfer to Siberia.

The crooked hat-wearing, hard-throwing reliever has seen better days. But Orioles fans need to relax.

Baltimore needs an effective Strop in the pen, and I think he can find what he's looking for. Strop and his fellow bullpen buddies spoiled fans last season with lock-down performances. Forgotten is Strop's 5-2 record and 2.44 ERA from 2012, along with 58 strikeouts in 66 1-3 innings.

Was he a little wild? Sure, as evidenced by his 37 walks. But more often than not Strop bridged the gap from starter to all-star closer Jim Johnson.

That's part of the reason fans watched Strop pitch for the Dominican Republic in this year's World Baseball Classic, and they watched him dominate. Strop tossed 6 2-3 scoreless innings (seven strikeouts) and helped the DR squad win the title.

Think Strop breezed past inferior competition? Wrong. He struck out Miguel Cabrera vs. Venezuela, and went through Ryan Braun, Giancarlo Stanton, and Eric Hosmer against the US.

But as relievers go, a few bad early outings can put a damper on your ERA and fans' spirits. Strop did just that in the second game of the year at Tampa Bay, with three runs and four hits in one inning.

Kind of tricky to decrease a 27.00 ERA right from the start with more than one bad performance, and Strop had a few in April. But he also had seven scoreless outings, then followed that with six in a row to start May.

Remember, however, Strop pitches in the AL East. He comes in most times to face a litany of sluggers to protect a slim lead.

Sometimes you're going to have a run of bad days that seem like weeks.

Mike Gonzalez and Kevin Gregg know what Strop's going through right now. Remember those guys, each of them the bane of Baltimore fans' existence in their own right?

Me neither, but I'm not sure it's time to toss Strop and his talent aside just yet.

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