It wasn't too long ago that the Orioles were counting on Danys Baez to be the everyday closer.
At that time, Baez was struggling to find everything or anything in his arsenal of pitches to justify the mega million dollar signing.
Here was a guy who had definitely established himself as one of the better closers in the AL with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (as they were known at that time). Of course at that time there just wasn't as much opportunity to save many games, considering TB was the struggling bottom feeder of the eastern division.
Regardless, he had the velocity and the package to go with it. He threw strikes, didn't walk many batters, had a devastating split-finger fastball, and a decent slider when needed. All he really needed was a better team to present opportunities.
The chances came early and often for Baez in his first year, but there was something wrong. The fastball had lost its sink and the split had lost its location. Everbody was guessing something was wrong. In an effort to prove the signing was a good one, Baez had pushed himself to be better than he already was, and when trying to throw harder than his already impressive 95 mph fast ball, he hurt his arm.
That left him trying to hide the fact that he wasn't ok, while he kept digging a that much deeper and deeper until everyone lost confidence in him and looked elswhere for the next closer (Chris Ray).
Finally, he had to give in, and after the diagnosis came in that he needed an operation, he too was introduced to the famous Tommy John. At that point, nobody thought he would ever be the same as he once was. Baez was determined to get it back after mssing a whole year with the O's.
Much to the surprise of us all, Baez came back to vie for a starting job during spring training.
After four starts and a 6.00 ERA, Baez decided he would not throw his split anymore. The Orioles decided that experiment was over and Baez would be back in the bullpen.
What happened through it all was that Baez got the innings that he needed to rebuild the strength he had lost, and now he is back and throwing great. The fastball is hitting 95 with a nice sink to it and the split is disappearing on hitters as it once did. The numbers are showing up again and the scoreless innings are mounting.
Right-handed hitters are batting only .200, and amazingly left-handed hitters are only 2 for 23 (microscopic) at this point.
Considering the fact that George Sherrill could need a break for a while until he gets back to himself, it might be time to take advantage of Big D while the skillet is hot.