BOSTON - The Orioles conclude their four-game series against the Red Sox this morning, reminded again that a baseball season isn’t the only marathon.
Dan Straily will try to build off his first Orioles start, a cumbersome process given his unexpected release by the Marlins in late March and an idle stretch that broke his rhythm.
Straily is learning that Alex Cobb can be a handy resource.
Cobb missed most of the 2018 spring training because he stayed on the free agent market until signing his four-year deal with the Orioles on March 21. His debut also was pushed back and his production suffered through the first half.
“It’s really not ideal, in terms of when I left home back in early February, for what I was planning on doing for my season, but it’s baseball,” Straily said yesterday while standing outside the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park. “You can only deal with the cards we’re dealt. The fact is that it’s just another obstacle in my way. It’s really nothing to think about or dwell on. It’s just something I have to keep working through.”
Here’s where Straily can bond with Cobb, who’s currently on the injured list with a lumbar strain. They have more in common than the reddish hair and beard.
“Alex went through it last year, in a completely different situation, but Alex went through something similar, so he’s been able to help me understand some of the things,” Straily said. “You feel like you’re 100 percent ready and then you get out there and it’s just like some command things are off and he’s like, ‘Well, you haven’t pitched in 16 days.’ And that’s no longer the case, so now I’m able to go up there and I think this last time through, getting five days of routine has really been beneficial to me.
“His biggest advice to me was don’t look at your stat line for a little while. He’s like, when you have this much time off you kind of feel like you’re really ready to go and the results just say you weren’t, and it’s just something you can’t read into as a pitcher. He was saying I’ve got to stick to who I am as a pitcher and keep going with it because eventually things will start clicking in my direction.”
And a 19.29 ERA should lose more weight.
Straily debuted with the Orioles in relief against the Yankees on April 7 and allowed five runs and five hits in 1 1/3 innings. He worked 3 1/3 innings in Wednesday’s start against the Athletics and surrendered five runs and eight hits while permitted to stretch his pitch count to 66. He’s served up two home runs in each appearance with the Orioles.
Each bullpen session is aimed to knock off the rust and sharpen Straily’s repertoire. Allow him to command his pitches. Get the feel back after the layoff.
“I think the biggest thing after the couple weeks off I had was just trying to get consistency with all my pitches, really, in the strike zone,” he said. “Last time out it was too many strikes that weren’t quality, so just trying to clean that up. Just some really small things that make a big difference in the long run of a game.”
The Red Sox can expect the usual assortment from Straily, a pu pu platter of pitches.
Straily mainly goes fastball/slider/changeup and also can mix in a sinker and curveball. He’s actually thrown the slider a little more than his four-seamer with the Orioles, according to brooksbaseball.net, and used the changeup much more often versus the Athletics than in his first outing.
Straily won’t rack up high strikeout totals. The ball will be put in play and it’s usually in the air.
“I’m a fly-ball pitcher, but that doesn’t mean long fly balls,” he said. “There’s a lot of infield popups, there’s a lot of weak contact like that. But really it’s keeping the ball on the edges of the plate.
“Example, I gave up the home run to (Jurickson) Profar the other day and I was trying to throw a backdoor slider and it came right back down the middle. That’s just something that usually doesn’t happen for me. If anything, that ball would stay off the plate away, barely touching the black. So it’s just some small things like that where really trying to get guys to leave their comfort zone in the batter’s box to come hit my pitch and it seems like I’ve just been making mistakes over the middle of the plate.
“I don’t care where you’re pitching, what ballpark you’re in, those are going to get hammered in the major leagues. So it’s just little, small adjustments like that. But really it’s fastball, slider, changeup, just mixing those three pitches anytime. We talk about it all the time, there’s no such thing as a fastball count, there’s no such thing as an off-speed count anymore in baseball. And I think I’m definitely one of the pitchers who agrees with that, that I’ll throw any pitch anytime.”
Straily already has found a comfort zone with his new team, maybe because he’s had so much practice. He’s also pitched for the Athletics, Cubs, Astros and Reds since making his major league debut in 2012.
“It’s been pretty easy from my standpoint,” he said. “It’s kind of the first-day-of-school feeling when you first walk into a new clubhouse, and I’ve been well versed in that in my career. It seems like every couple years I find myself in a new spot.
“It’s been a good transition so far, and I think one of the big ones is knowing a lot of the staff members when I got here. That helped out a lot. Getting to know the players, it’s kind of interesting because you know all the players, you just haven’t met them yet, and so you kind of get familiar pretty quickly. And baseball players, there’s a lot of stuff in common to talk about from the get-go.”
Both of Straily’s career starts against the Red Sox came at Fenway Park, where he allowed six earned runs (seven total) and 10 hits in nine innings. He walked six batters and struck out 10.
Mitch Moreland is 1-for-15 with six walks and five strikeouts against him.