Dominant bullpens are all the rage. Load up the back end and hope your starters can work into the sixth inning.
The Yankees are taking that path with yesterday’s trade for Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, who joins left-hander Andrew Miller and right-hander Dellin Betances. They could deal Miller, but general manager Brian Cashman told reporters yesterday that the plan calls for a three-headed relief monster, with the closer to be determined at a later date.
The bullpen projections for the Orioles always include right-hander Mychal Givens, who retains his rookie status after logging 30 innings over 22 appearances this year.
He’s not guaranteed a spot on the roster, but he’s deserving of the assumptions.
Givens registered a 1.80 ERA and 0.867 WHIP in three stints with the Orioles, allowing six earned runs (seven total) and 20 hits. He averaged 1.8 walks and 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
The Orioles must have found the right arm slot for him. They definitely found the right role, converting him from shortstop to pitcher in 2013.
Let’s remember that Givens could have been lost in the Rule 5 draft last winter. The Orioles left him unprotected. Any team could have grabbed him, but they passed.
Givens wasn’t included on the spring training roster in 2015 after posting a 1.658 WHIP and averaging 8.2 walks per nine innings the previous year at Double-A Bowie. The Orioles weren’t done tinkering with him.
“It’s amazing,” Givens said at FanFest. “I just know myself as being a competitive player. I didn’t get the opportunity to be in big league camp last year, but at the same time I don’t let negativity go all around me. I just look to the future and I’m happy to be here and happy to still be with the organization and didn’t get picked up in Rule 5.
“I’m happy to be here with Buck Showalter. He’s a great manager and he knows how to use his bullpen and his pitching staff, as well.”
Does Givens assume that he’s going to be counted among the seven relievers on opening day?
“No,” he replied. “Just looking forward to spring training. This being my first big league spring training, just looking forward to having fun and being with the guys.
“I expect to just have fun and if I break camp, I break camp. I’m still going to compete and do whatever I can to get on the team.”
Givens, a second-round pick in 2009 out of Plant High School in Tampa, earned his first major league win on July 31 against the Tigers. He had 13 multi-strikeout performances and recorded at least one strikeout in 19 of his 22 games. He also stranded 11 of 13 inherited runners.
The Orioles chose Givens and Triple-A reliever Oliver Drake as co-winners of their minor league Pitcher of the Year award. Givens would appear to have the better shot at making the 25-man roster out of spring training, but he isn’t a finished product and he’s taking nothing for granted. There’s still work to be done.
“Just getting better, fine-tune all my pitches and make them better,” he said. “They’re so big on the whole technology these days with the video. Just get better at what I do.
“I’ve got Dom Chiti and Dave Wallace to help me get better.”
Notes: The Orioles acquired minor league outfielder Zach Kapstein from the Red Sox for cash considerations, according to Baseball America’s free agent tracker.
Kapstein, 23, is a career .262/.342/.334 hitter in six minor league seasons. He’s never played above the high Single-A level.
The Red Sox drafted Kapstein in the 44th round in 2010 out of Tiverton (R.I.) High School. He caught in eight games back in 2010 and played seven games at first base the following season before shifting to the outfield.
Matt and Maria Wieters announced that they will match any tax-deductible donation to BARCS Animal Shelter up to $10,000 through Dec. 31.
Matt has been involved with BARCS in the past, posing each year for the Orioles Pet Calendar, with proceeds going to the shelter.
Donations can be made online or mailed to 301 Stockholm St., Baltimore, Md. 21230