Dan Straily, the right-hander signed a week into the Orioles season, will start Monday one year and a day after his new rotation-mate Alex Cobb made his season debut at Fenway Park after signing late in the spring himself.
Cobb's advice to Straily, who has given up 10 runs on 13 hits — including four home runs — in 4 2/3 innings over one relief appearance and one start in an Orioles uniform so far?
"His biggest advice to me was don't look at your stat line for a little while," Straily said. "When you have this much time off, you get up there and you kind of feel like you're really ready to go, then the results just say you weren't. It's just something you can't read into as a pitcher. He was saying I've got to stick to who I am as a pitcher and just keep going with it, because eventually, things will start clicking in my direction."
Straily was preparing for a third straight season with the Miami Marlins, for whom he made 56 starts over the past two seasons, when he was released near the end of spring training. He chose the Orioles as his next destination for the opportunity to start here, and after pitching in relief April 6, he started April 10 against the Oakland Athletics and got hit around, leaving his ERA at 19.29, albeit in barely five innings.
He said the long layoff between his release and joining the Orioles was "really not ideal," but knows what he needed to work on entering Monday's start.
"I think the biggest thing was a little bit, after that few weeks off I had, was just trying to get consistency with really all my pitches in the strike zone," Straily said. "Last time out, it was just too many strikes that weren't quality, so just trying to clean that up, just some really small things that make a big difference in the long run of this game."
A veteran of seven major league teams over six seasons before he joined the Orioles, Straily had a 4.23 ERA entering this season. He says when he's good, it will be clear what he's doing to make himself successful again.
"I'm a fly-ball pitcher, but that doesn't mean like long fly balls," Straily said. "There's a lot of infield pop-ups, there's a lot of weak contact like that. But really, it's keeping the ball on the edges of the plate.
"Like example, I gave up he home run to [Oakland’s Jurickson] Profar the other day. I was trying to throw a backdoor slider and it came right back down the middle. That's just something that usually doesn't happen for me. If anything, that ball will stay off the plate away, barely touching the black kind of thing. It's just some small things like that, really trying to get guys to leave their comfort zone as the batter's box, to come hit my pitch. It seems like I've just been making mistakes over the middle of the plate. I don't care where you're pitching, what ballpark you're in, those are going to get hammered in the major leagues. It's just little small adjustments like that, but really, fastball-slider-changeup, just mixing those pitches any time."