Orioles notes: Bloated bullpen yielding both results and confusion; Trey Mancini debuts Tuesday

Orioles manager Buck Showalter, and managers across the game, lament the impact of September call-ups on the quality of the game. But the Orioles and Red Sox have both benefited from the expanded rosters that make more relievers available.

The Red Sox (0.94) and Orioles (1.89) rank first and second in bullpen ERA in September.


Showalter is reaping the rewards of having a bullpen with a dozen relievers. It has fundamentally changed how he uses his pitchers.

For five months, the team was reliant on Vance Worley and a rotating cast of swingmen to provide long relief. Now, Showalter said, they no longer need those roles.

"We're trying to live to fight another day," Showalter said. "We were able to stay away from Brad [Brach] and Zach [Britton] and Mychal [Givens] and those guys last night, and Donnie Hart. We wouldn't have been able to do that in August. We would have paid a penalty for that, or we would have made a move or sent Tyler [Wilson] or Vance out after he pitched four or five innings so we had somebody who could pitch the next day."

Those long outings were more out of necessity than anything else, he said. It's hard to argue with the results since rosters expanded, though some out in the bullpen believe it's a bit jarring to the relief corps to see roles change so late in the season.

Said Brach: "It's definitely one of those things where, at times, it's, 'What's going to be next?' If they do call, when the phone does ring, you see a lot more heads turn because you don't know who it's going to be, exactly."

The benefits to someone like Brach are clear. There are certain situations in which he knows he'll pitch, and others in when he can take a mental break when he knows there are better options than him for the game situation.

The bullpen is enjoying one of its best months of the season.

"It can be helpful, because it gives [younger guys] a chance to pitch in a game, get experience, and you don't have to use your main setup guys for those games," Brach said. "It's just different because there's so many guys down there. You just never now sometimes, how guys are going to be used or when guys are going to used. It's definitely a positive, but at times, there's a little confusion because you just don't know who's going to be used at any time. For the most part, though, it's positive."

Mancini makes his debut: With former Orioles farmhand Eduardo Rodriguez, a left-handed starter, on the mound, prospect Trey Mancini made his first career start Tuesday for the Orioles.

Showalter batted him seventh as the designated hitter in an effort to keep Mancini, who was called up Monday from Triple-A Norfolk, from spending too long out of the batter's box.

"It's really exciting," Mancini said. "This is what I've been waiting for my whole life, but at the same time, it's the same game I've been playing for the last 20 years. I've got to go out there and try to calm my emotions. I know it's going to be tough, especially the first at-bat. I'm really excited."

Mancini hit a combined .282 with an .815 OPS and 20 home runs in 146 games between Double-A Bowie and Norfolk this season.

Around the horn: Left-hander Wade Miley is scheduled to leave the team for the birth of his child at the end of this weekend's final home series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Showalter said. Miley left his start Sunday after four shutout innings with a muscle strain in his back. Showalter said he will finalize the rotation for the three-game series with Arizona that begins Friday some time Tuesday night. … Showalter said he had no update on outfielder Joey Rickard (torn thumb ligament), with his rehab in Sarasota no further along than it was this weekend. ... Center fielder Adam Jones was given the Oriole Way Award from the Orioles Advocates group for his efforts to grow the game and serve the community.


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