The Orioles signed veteran left-handed reliever Tom Gorzelanny to a minor league free agent contract this weekend, and handed him his debut with Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday, making him the latest possible option to be the left-hander reliever they’ve sought all season.
Gorzelanny, 34, allowed a hit and issued a walk in 1/3 of an inning to mark his debut, returning to the International League after the Cleveland Indians outrighted him off the 40-man roster earlier this month.
The veteran reliever had spent most of the season at their Triple-A affiliate, and made seven major league appearances for the Indians this year, allowing seven earned runs on four hits and five walks in three innings. He’s played a dozen major league seasons, some as a starter, but experienced his best full season as a reliever in 2014 when he posted a 0.86 ERA in 23 games for the Milwaukee Brewers.
He had a 5.95 ERA in 48 appearances last year for the Detroit Tigers, and has a career 4.40 ERA and a 1.445 WHIP in 314 career appearances. Lefties are batting .229 off him this year.
If the Orioles summon him, he’ll be the latest in a long line of left-handed relievers they’ve cycled through since dealing Brian Matusz to the Atlanta Braves in what amounted to a salary dump in mid-May. Left-hander Ashur Tolliver took his place in the short-term, then veteran Brian Duensing came up before needing elbow surgery, and most recently Donnie Hart made his major league debut in three appearances since the All-Star break.
Left-handers Jayson Aquino and Ariel Miranda were both summoned as long relief help in the last month as well.
For long stretches, however, the bullpen has gone without a left-hander outside of closer Zach Britton. Manager Buck Showalter doesn’t love the setup, but with the return now of right-hander Darren O’Day, whose spot Hart took on the roster, plus Brad Brach, he’s comfortable with the success against left-handers his bullpen has had.
Gorzellany may only be in Norfolk as depth, where he joins Tolliver, Andy Oliver, Zach Phillips and Edgar Olmos as left-handers in the bullpen. Hart is in Double-A now with hard-throwing prospect Tanner Scott accounting for their left-handed bullpen depth.
What’s clear with this signing is that Matusz, for all his warts, has proven more difficult to replace in the Orioles’ pen than might have been thought at the time.
The Virginian-Pilot first reported Gorzelanny’s signing.