In an effort to get struggling closer Mychal Givens back on track, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde will deploy his most experienced relief arm in lower-leverage situations for his next handful of outings.
Givens has suffered either a loss or blown save in each of his past four outings, allowing three home runs, 13 base runners and eight runs in three innings. He preceded the rough stretch with six scoreless outings to start May, making the past week more confounding.
Hyde pinpointed Givens’ command and confidence, rather than his usage, as the cause of the struggles. He compared Givens’ stats to this time last year and saw fewer innings pitched and fewer appearances with similar walk and strikeout totals. But Givens has allowed five home runs in that span this season while opponents are hitting .253/.354/.470 against him, versus a .216/.309/.309 line at this time in 2018.
“We need Mike bad, and we need the good Mychal Givens,” Hyde said. “I think he’s maybe forcing it a little bit, too, knowing that he wants to be the guy there at the end. It’s one of those where you try to be the guy because you see how hard everybody else is working to try to win the game and maybe trying too hard, whatever it is. But yeah, we need Mike to be Mychal Givens, and right now, he’s just had a tough five-, six-day stretch, so I’m gonna try to get him back on track somehow.”
In a bullpen lacking established arms, Givens is the only Orioles reliever who offers that. Hyde has repeatedly said Givens will try to get a game’s most important outs, regardless of whether they come in the ninth inning.
Instead, Hyde said Givens’ next couple of outings will come earlier in games or possibly with Baltimore trailing. Although Hyde was unsure who will replace Givens as his primary option to close out games, right-handers Shawn Armstrong and Branden Kline, both of whom have closing experience in the upper minors, and left-handers Paul Fry and Richard Bleier have most recently been setting up Givens. Armstrong got the call Monday, entering with a runner on first base in the ninth inning and issuing a walk before retiring the next three batters to finish off a 5-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Givens did not pitch.
“Just to try to get him to get some confidence back and get his command where he needs it and wants it, and then you’re gonna see whoever pitch after him,” Hyde said. “We’ll figure it out.”
And Givens’ teammates believe he will, too.
"It's tough, but Mychal handles it really well,” Trey Mancini said. “He's had such a good career, and I've seen him be so dominant before, and that hasn't changed. The stuff is still there. It was just a tough few-game stretch for him, and those things happen, unfortunately. And you hate to see him go through that, but there's no doubt in my mind, with the way that he handles his business and the way he comes to the field each day. He does a really good job of shaking the previous day off and looking forward to the future. He does that better than just about anybody in here, so I have full faith that he can turn it around."
Trumbo to start rehab assignment Tuesday
Mark Trumbo, a player who offers a veteran presence the likes of which the Orioles have few of, will begin a rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Bowie on Tuesday.
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Throughout the rehab assignment, which Trumbo said will likely take the full 20 days to complete, he will play both first base and right field to test the right knee he underwent surgery on last year.
“It’s held up pretty well,” Trumbo said. “I have had probably more days off than I would be afforded in the regular season schedule, but I’m kinda looking forward to going three days in a row, four days in a row, that type of thing.”
Trumbo said he got about 15 at-bats while at extended spring training in Sarasota, where he routinely kept up with an Orioles team that could use him.
“Mark’s a pro and seen a lot in the game and done a lot of great things and just to have him around is big for all of us,” Hyde said. “I think guys look up to him. He’s a presence. It’s great to have him around.”
Although Trumbo said the knee doesn’t bother him with day-to-day tasks, the recovery and mental aspects of it present issues. He also referenced aggressive base running as the largest remaining hurdle.
“I think anything that you have, as serious as this, your mind’s gonna be on it quite a bit,” Trumbo said. “So I’m looking forward to when it’s not, and that probably will be the biggest indicator that I’m as back to full strength as I can be.”
Around the horn
Hyde was unsure whether first baseman Chris Davis (left hip) will be able to return from the disabled list when immediately eligible Monday. … The Orioles replaced Davis on the 25-man roster with right-hander Evan Phillips, leaving Hyde with a two-man bench and 14 pitchers. He said the Orioles need the arrangement coming off their series in Colorado, but it will likely be short-lived, as Phillips was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after Monday’s game.