xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

The Orioles traded away four veteran pitchers this season. How have they — and their replacements — fared?

After the trades that removed four veterans from the Orioles' pitching staff, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias assured the moves were less an indictment of the club’s present than an effort to improve its future.

In many cases, it’s benefited both. The four deals — Richard Bleier to the Miami Marlins, Tommy Milone to the Atlanta Braves, Mychal Givens to the Colorado Rockies and Miguel Castro to the New York Mets — each created the opportunity for a younger pitcher to step into a new role, either in the Orioles' rotation or in the back end of their bullpen.

Advertisement

With the Orioles still pushing for an unexpected playoff berth, those pitchers have been vital in getting them to this point and will also play a large role in how they fare in the season’s final two weeks.

Richard Bleier

After being one of baseball’s most effective relievers in his first three seasons, Bleier struggled in his return from shoulder surgery in 2019. Early in 2020, he looked more like the pitcher he had been, with three scoreless innings in his first two outings.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The Orioles then traded him for a player to be named later to a Marlins team desperate for pitching after a COVID-19 outbreak. Since, Bleier has continued his success as a late-inning left-hander with Miami. He entered Monday with six straight scoreless appearances.

Replacement: Tanner Scott

Although Bleier has done well with the Marlins, the trade created more chances for Scott in the back end of manager Brandon Hyde’s bullpen.

Scott has a 1.47 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 18⅓ innings this season. He’s been effective against both right-handers and left-handers, limiting the former to a .152 average and .194 slugging percentage, while lefties have hit .143 against him.

Advertisement

His slider has much to do with his effectiveness. Among left-handers who have thrown at least 100 sliders in 2020 entering Saturday, Scott’s had produced the sixth-lowest expected average, a Statcast metric that measures the likelihood of hits based on the quality of contact. Ranking just below him is fellow Orioles left-hander Paul Fry, who has also received more consistent late-inning work since the Bleier trade.

Tommy Milone

The Orioles received two unnamed players from the Braves for Milone, with that pair likely to be low-level minor leaguers who aren’t in Atlanta’s player pool. Signed to a minor league deal days into spring training, the veteran left-hander ended up as Baltimore’s Opening Day starter and recorded a 3.99 ERA in six starts while striking out more than a batter an inning.

The move to Atlanta did not go his or the Braves' way. He lasted only 9⅔ innings total in his three starts while surrendering four homers and 16 earned runs. He landed on the injured list Thursday with inflammation in his pitching elbow.

Replacement: Keegan Akin

Before a dud of an outing Friday against the New York Yankees, Akin had been more than serviceable in taking Milone’s place in the Orioles' rotation.

In his first two starts, Akin matched Milone’s 9⅔ innings, but he kept the Toronto Blue Jays and the Yankees from scoring an earned run and struck out 14. Getting the chance to see Baltimore’s No. 11 prospect for a second time in a week, the Yankees scored four runs off him in an outing that lasted less than an inning, though the defense behind Akin was poor.

“They knew he was going to be around the strike zone, so they came out swinging the bat aggressive,” Hyde said. “We didn’t help him out either, though. That damage in the first inning, that could’ve been limited to one or two runs, and then he stays in the game, and who knows what happens after that.”

Akin will continue to get opportunities as a starter through the end of the year, as will Dean Kremer, who followed a shining debut with another strong outing Saturday.

Mychal Givens

Givens struggled as Baltimore’s closer in 2019 but was thriving in a return to a setup role before Elias sent him to Colorado for two infield prospects and a player to be named.

The right-hander has been scored on in three of his first six outings with the Rockies after allowing runs in only two of his 12 appearances this season for Baltimore. He’s also allowed two homers with Colorado, double the number he gave up as an Oriole in 2020.

Replacement: Hunter Harvey

Harvey entered the season positioned to replace Givens as the Orioles' closer, but an arm injury landed him on the injured list to begin the year.

Upon his return, Hyde immediately inserted Harvey into the late-inning role he starred in after his 2019 call-up. Harvey has yet to produce the strikeout numbers he did during last year’s promotion, and that hurt Saturday. When he pitched the bottom of the 10th in a tie game with a runner automatically at second, he immediately threw a wild pitch and soon left with a walk-off loss when Luke Voit was able to get the ball in the air for a sacrifice fly.

Harvey has allowed two earned runs and struck out three in 5⅓ innings, pitching in the eighth inning or later in five of his six outings this year. He is unlikely to pitch back-to-back days as the Orioles try to manage his health.

Miguel Castro

Castro’s terrific stuff never turned into a consistent late-inning role with the Orioles, though a simplified motion was contributing to a career-best strikeout rate in 2020.

The Mets decided to flip left-handed-pitching prospect Kevin Smith, as well as a player to be named or cash, for Castro, who has pitched with mixed results entering Saturday. He’s allowed four runs (three earned) across his first five outings with New York, all of which have come in the sixth inning or later.

Replacement: Dillon Tate

Hyde’s increased trust in Tate showed Saturday when he brought him into a tied game at Yankee Stadium to face Gleyber Torres, Brett Gardner and Gary Sánchez, all of whom pounded Orioles pitching in 2019.

Tate hit Torres with a pitch but retired Gardner and Sánchez before giving way to Scott, who stranded Torres at second after a walk. In his past five outings, Tate, a product of the 2018 trade that sent Zack Britton to the Yankees, pitched six straight hitless innings before allowing two runs on two hits in 1⅔ innings and taking the loss Sunday.

“It’s an example of increased depth from last year,” Hyde said. “We lose Givens and Castro last year, there would’ve been some rough nights. We lose Bleier, we lose Givens, we lose Castro, we have guys like Dillon Tate that have stepped up and been able to pitch, so far, in those types of innings and getting good middle-of-the-order major league hitters out.”

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement