They could go in a few directions.
Brad Brach, T.J. McFarland and Ryan Webb have options. McFarland could be expendable with three other relievers in the bullpen, but we know how much manager Buck Showalter values his contributions, his ability to “defend himself” against left-handed and right-handed hitters, his work as the long man behind the right-handed starters.
Brach worked two perfect innings last night and threw 21 pitches. Was it a farewell performance? If so, he deserved a standing ovation and a bouquet of roses.
Brach has allowed three earned runs in 20 2/3 innings over 12 appearances since June 23, issuing four walks and striking out 18. He’s also gone 4-0 in that span.
Send him down? That would be a tough one.
Webb kept the game scoreless in the 12th before allowing a run in the 13th.
Showalter indicated yesterday that he’d stay with 12 pitchers. No short bench.
As for evaluating the trade, check back with me in a few years. I’ll need to know whether Eduardo Rodriguez has become an established major league starter. I’ll also need to know whether Miller helped the Orioles make the playoffs.
Miller was the top left-handed reliever on the market and there was plenty of competition for him. In that regard, the Orioles already have scored a victory.
They also may have shortened the games. Take a lead into the sixth and feel pretty good about your chances with Miller, Tommy Hunter, Darren O’Day and Zach Britton. Brian Matusz remains a weapon against left-handed hitters and can be used as a specialist when Miller is available to pitch.
It may have gone unnoticed, but Matusz didn’t allow a run in 8 1/3 innings in July. He permitted four hits, walked two, struck out 13 - including three last night after replacing Webb in the 13th - and held opponents to a .133 average.
Matusz posted a 7.94 ERA in June and opponents batted .327 against him.
If a team has any concerns about its rotation, it can find another starter or strengthen its bullpen. The Orioles tried to do both before the deadline and batted .500.
There’s still time to improve the pitching depth. The deadline isn’t a brick wall. Players just need to pass through waivers first before they can be traded.
It’s always a risk giving up a young pitcher like Rodriguez, the organization’s No. 3 prospect according to Baseball America, but I’ve constantly heard people in the industry say you should take the proven player over a prospect who may not pan out.
Rodriguez’s stock had slipped this year. Scouts weren’t as high on him. That’s not to say the Orioles wanted to unload him. They almost lost Miller to the Tigers yesterday because executive vice president Dan Duquette was hesitant to trade Rodriguez.
The Red Sox wouldn’t budge and Duquette kept coming up with different proposals before finally relenting.
Miller was 20-27 with a 5.70 ERA in 66 career starts in the majors. He’s 8-11 with a 3.66 ERA in 170 relief appearances.
The Orioles should be relieved that Miller is on their side. He’s 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA in 16 games (three starts) against them. They batted .144/.261/.196.
Chris Davis is 0-for-8 with seven strikeouts. He should offer Miller his number, even if the right-hander doesn’t want it.
Nick Markakis is 3-for-13 and Adam Jones is 2-for-11. Delmon Young homered in his only at-bat.
Meanwhile, I keep checking and there are no reports that Jim Johnson, Brian Roberts and Joe Saunders are sharing a ride to Baltimore.