Should we worry about the Orioles bullpen?

Don’t look now, but after last night’s games, the Orioles no longer lead the major leagues in bullpen ERA. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh have ‘pen ERAs of 2.70 and the Orioles’ mark went up to 2.71. That still ranks first in the American League.

The Orioles bullpen has now given up runs in eight straight games; before this, five in a row was the longest stretch of the year. Over those eight games, the ‘pen ERA is 5.81, raising the season number from 2.30 to that current 2.71.

The Orioles bullpen allowed runs to help Seattle add to its lead Monday night and last night allowed runs that tied the game, denying Wei-Yin Chen a victory. But those pitchers have been so good for so long that I don’t think a few slip ups here and there are any cause for concern. There are some issues to worry about with this club right now, but I don’t think we should add the bullpen to that list.

Before his issues in the eighth inning last night, Pedro Strop had allowed just two earned runs over his previous 26 innings. Jim Johnson easily sailed through another ninth inning last night to protect a one-run lead and earn his 24th save. He is tied with Tampa Bay’s Fernando Rodney for the AL lead.

Even on a night where the bullpen allowed Seattle to tie the game, Darren O’Day got maybe the game’s biggest out when he induced Jesus Montero to fly out with the bases loaded in the eighth in a 4-4 tie. O’Day stopped the bleeding there and then Robert Andino’s homer won it in the ninth.

The Orioles bullpen remains first in the AL in ERA:
2.71 - Orioles
2.96 - Oakland
3.12 - Boston

Meanwhile, by pulling out that win, the Orioles remain the only team in the AL that has not lost when leading after seven innings this year. They improved to 31-0 last night.

Of course, you should win a large majority of games when you lead that late in the game, but to be the only team that has not let even one get away in that situation has been a key for the Orioles this year. They improved to 15-6 in one-run games with Tuesday’s win.

By comparison, Boston, Oakland and Detroit have lost five games this season when leading after seven.

So the Orioles bullpen has seen its ERA go up a bit. It still ranks as the best in the league. Worry about the Orioles bullpen? No thanks.

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