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Orioles ‘DFAll-Star’ pitchers: A full team of waiver claims and trades from the first 3 years of the rebuild

Three years into the Orioles’ rebuild under executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias, the team’s roster has been a mix of young players trying to fill out their promise and castoffs from other clubs, without much in between.

The Orioles’ poor performance in that time meant they were often high in the waiver claim order and thus had the first crack as teams knocked players off their rosters. If there was a need — such as on the infield or on the pitcher’s mound — the Orioles have been aggressive in plugging those holes with these low-cost solutions.

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Between waiver claims or trades for players who were designated for assignment by their previous club, the Orioles have fielded an entire team of such players who were brought in by Elias alone in the past three seasons.

Some have fared better than others. Pedro Severino lasted three seasons, Hanser Alberto became relatively beloved and Cole Sulser was the club’s best reliever by far in 2021. Others, like Keon Broxton, didn’t work out.

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Eventually, the Orioles will no longer need the combined thousands of at-bats and hundreds of innings from players other teams have discarded. Until then, here are the Orioles’ “DFAll-Stars” — a full team of players Elias claimed on waivers or traded for after they were designated for assignment, and what they contributed while they were here.

We’ve already run through the hitters. Here are the pitchers.

Orioles starter Jorge López hit a mid-inning wall quite frequently and looked good in the bullpen before his 2021 ended with an ankle injury.
Orioles starter Jorge López hit a mid-inning wall quite frequently and looked good in the bullpen before his 2021 ended with an ankle injury. (Terrance Williams/AP)

Starting pitcher Jorge López

Stats: 160 innings, 42 games, 31 games started; 6.13 ERA; 1.581 WHIP, 1.1 fWAR

López came from the Kansas City Royals to tantalize the Orioles at pretty much every turn, though at least in the starting rotation it was a struggle for him. He hit a mid-inning wall quite frequently and looked good in the bullpen before his 2021 ended with an ankle injury.

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Starting pitcher Chris Ellis

Stats: 25 ⅓ IP, 6 G, 6 GS; 2.49 ERA; 1.22 WHIP, 0.3 fWAR

A waiver claim late in 2021 from the Tampa Bay Rays, Ellis went right into the Orioles rotation and was an immediate upgrade. He started as an opener type and eventually went deeper into games before a shoulder injury shut him down. Somewhat curiously, he was outrighted off the roster this fall, making him a free agent, though perhaps he could return.

Starting pitcher Aaron Brooks

Stats: 59 ⅔ IP, 14 G, 12 GS; 6.18 ERA; 1.49 WHIP; 0.6 fWAR

Brooks was claimed midway through the 2019 season to provide some length on a battered pitching staff and kind of accomplished that. His best outing, oddly enough, came after he moved to the bullpen in September, when he pitched seven innings of one-run, one-hit relief. Brooks left to pitch overseas that fall.

Starting pitcher Ty Blach

Stats: 20 ⅔ IP, 5 G, 5 GS; 11.32 ERA; 2.18 WHIP; -0.1 fWAR

More recently, Blach was rehabbing from elbow surgery with the Orioles’ group of 2021 draftees both in Sarasota, Florida, and at a Low-A Delmarva, and the young prospects loved being around a pitcher with so much major league experience. But unless he gets back there next year or in the future, his last big league outings will have been difficult starts with the Orioles in 2019.

Starting pitcher Chandler Shepherd

Stats: 19 IP, 5 G, 3 GS; 6.63 ERA; 1.53 WHIP; -0.1 fWAR

Shepherd was claimed off waivers from the Chicago Cubs as the Orioles were starved for pitchers midway through the 2019 season, and he got his chance as the summer went on. He was in the rotation at the end of September and pitched well at Fenway Park in the season finale, only to be outrighted off the roster the next day.

Closer Cole Sulser

Stats: 86 IP, 79 G; 3.45 ERA; 1.21 WHIP; 1.6 fWAR

Sulser took Shepherd’s roster spot just after the 2019 season and was the rare waiver claim to survive all winter — a sign the Orioles liked him a lot. He’s been a fixture in their bullpen ever since, closing early in 2020 before falling off as the season went on with an injury. This past season, however, he was their best and most consistent reliever.

Reliever Shawn Armstrong

Stats: 89 ⅓ IP, 85 G; 5.34 ERA; 1.50 WHIP; 1 fWAR

Not long after the Orioles cut ties with Mike Wright Jr., his college teammate and close friend Armstrong came over from the Seattle Mariners and wore Wright’s No. 43. Armstrong pitched well in the shortened 2020 season but never got going this year and was outrighted off the roster relatively early. He eventually was moved to the Rays.

Reliever Joey Krehbiel

Stats: 7 ⅓ IP, 5 G; 4.91 ERA; 1.23 WHIP, 0.0 fWAR

Krehbiel came off waivers from the Rays late in the season and had a nice scoreless outing streak to begin his time with the Orioles. He didn’t allow a run in his first three appearances before a home run in his last one spoiled things.

Reliever Eric Hanhold

Stats: 10 ⅓ IP, 10 G; 6.97 ERA; 1.55 WHIP; -0.1 fWAR

Hanhold was certainly made to wait his turn, but for the most part showed well when he finally got called up to the Orioles late this summer. A waiver claim before the 2020 season, he was at the alternate site all last summer without appearing in a game and toiled at Triple-A Norfolk until he finally had his contract selected in mid-September. When the Orioles tried to slip him through waivers a second time, the Pittsburgh Pirates claimed him.

Reliever Carson Fulmer

Stats: 3 ⅔ IP, 3 G; 0.00 ERA; 0.55 WHIP; 0.1 fWAR

A former first-round pick who hasn’t really stuck as a pro, Fulmer passed through Baltimore briefly in 2020 and looked good while doing it. They tried to pass him through waivers late that season but the Pirates took him. The risk didn’t pay off for the Orioles as they lost an interesting arm in the process.

Reliever Zack Burdi

Stats: 1 IP, 1 G; 0.00 ERA; 1.00 WHIP; 0.0 fWAR

Likewise, the hard-throwing Burdi made one appearance for the Orioles and is the kind of high-velocity arm they don’t have many of. But when the season ended, they tried to slip him through waivers and he didn’t make it past the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Marcos Diplán, an All-Star Futures Game participant, was largely good with the Orioles in 2021, though he was outrighted off the roster and elected free agency after the season.
Marcos Diplán, an All-Star Futures Game participant, was largely good with the Orioles in 2021, though he was outrighted off the roster and elected free agency after the season. (Terrance Williams/AP)

Reliever Marcos Diplán

Stats: 30 IP, 23 G; 4.50 ERA; 1.23 WHIP; -0.2 fWAR

Diplán was claimed off waivers during the 2019 winter meetings from the Pirates and waited until this summer to make his debut. The All-Star Futures Game participant was largely good with the Orioles, though he was outrighted off the roster and elected free agency after the season. MASNSports.com reported he’ll be back on a minor league contract.

Reliever Brandon Waddell

Stats: 1 IP, 1 G; 0.00 ERA; 1.000 WHIP; 0.0 fWAR

Waddell made one appearance this summer, but even a make-believe team full of waiver claims can’t have a bullpen full of right-handers. Waddell, a lefty, makes the cut here.

Reliever Ryan Eades

Stats: 7 ⅔ IP, 6 G; 3.52 ERA; 1.43 WHIP; -0.2 fWAR

There were plenty of candidates for the last spot, but Eades had more memorable moments with the Orioles than anyone else, even if they weren’t all positive. Having to finish two marathon extra-inning losses is not a fun assignment for anyone, but Eades handled them well.

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