KANSAS CITY, MO. — Orioles manager Buck Showalter isn’t so much interested in declaring a closer for a team that barely gets more than one or two save opportunities in a week, instead focusing on the idea that the likes of Mychal Givens need to finish this year off strong.
“I’m trying to have everybody finish healthy, and keep in mind their background,” Showalter said. “Mike has had a couple good years. This year, he’s trying to finish strong. I try to keep that in mind, and have a long memory.”
Givens, one of the game’s best setup men before this season, had a 2.75 ERA over the first three years of his major league career, striking out 10.9 batters per nine innings and providing a bridge to since-traded All-Stars Brad Brach and Zach Britton.
This season, as the Orioles’ fortunes swung the other way and the bullpen didn’t have as many leads to protect and struggled to do so when asked, Givens has a 4.76 ERA, raised by the two-run, game-winning home run hit Saturday night by the Kansas City Royals’ Whit Merrifield.
After that game, and before Sunday’s, Showalter said Givens would be one of several to be evaluated in the closer’s role going forward. He said Sunday that the Orioles are “looking at all options right now to make sure we make good decisions going forward.
“I’m not going to get backed into a corner here, there or whatever,” Showalter said. “We’ll see what best serves the needs of the players and the organization on a given night. I’m not going to have Mike sit around for five days waiting on a close situation. I’m not going to have Mike Wright, all those guys. I’m sure we’ll get a couple pitchers back here shortly. I don’t know if it’s so much a role as it is … first of all, you’ve got to get people out and just pitch when you’re asked to pitch and take advantage of the opportunity. That goes for everybody, including Mike.”
Rule 5 roundup
Outfielder Anthony Santander, who was on the disabled list at Double-A Bowie with a knee infection, hit a home run and doubled Saturday in his first multi-hit game in nine since being activated to Triple-A Norfolk.
Santander has hit .249 with a .692 OPS since being optioned to the minors once the team let him meet his Rule 5 roster requirements, but Showalter said adding him once the Norfolk season is over “would be something worthy of discussion.
“That’s something we’ve talked about with [executive vice president Dan Duquette] once their season’s over,” Showalter said. “It’s a consideration.”
Another Rule 5 pick, right-hander Pedro Araujo, won’t be back this year, though. Showalter said he hasn’t made enough progress coming back from his right elbow injury to be a candidate to come back in September, so he’ll have to finish off his 17-day roster requirement next spring.
Award for Akin
Left-hander Keegan Akin, the Orioles’ second-round draft pick in 2016, was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year for Double-A Bowie, the Baysox announced Sunday.
Akin, 23, went 14-7 with a 3.27 ERA and 142 strikeouts and a 1.25 WHIP in 25 starts (137 2/3 innings), leading the league in wins, strikeouts, batting average against (.225) and strikeout rate among starters (9.29 strikeouts per nine innings).
Akin was also named last month to the league’s post-season All-Star team alongside infielder Corban Joseph, and is the first Bowie pitcher to be named the league’s top pitcher since Brad Bergesen in 2008.
Rogers returns to mound
Showalter said Monday night’s start against the Seattle Mariners for left-hander Josh Rogers will be a good evaluation tool as the Orioles try to learn as much as he they can about him before he hits his innings limit.
“I think different competition, on the road against a really good club vying or the playoffs,” Showalter said. “It’s another good scenario to watch him maturing, and I’m anxious to see him pitch in that environment and do things you ask young pitchers to do — pitch on the West Coast, pitch on the road, pitch at night, pitch in the day. It’s just another thing, not so much to evaluate, as much as to give him that experience and see how he responds to it.”
Around the horn
Outfielder Adam Jones was out of the lineup Sunday so the team could continue to get a look at waiver claim John Andreoli. … Shortstop Tim Beckham is “banged up” and was left out of the lineup, as was third baseman Renato Núñez. Jace Peterson got the start at third base, with Breyvic Valera at second base. Jonathan Villar is at shortstop.