SARASOTA, Fla. - No doubt Orioles manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair should get credit for how they used the bullpen last year. There was not any overuse of pitchers and they always seem to put the right people in the right spots at the right times.
Showalter would even seem to know when to give a certain pitcher an outing, even if the situation didn’t necessarily call for his use, to get work to stay sharp. Pitchers were not overused or underused.
If they got up to warm up, they often got in the game. There were very few, if you want to call them, wasted pitches used up in the ‘pen but not in the game.
Lefty Troy Patton said Showalter’s bullpen use was a big key to the relievers’ success last season.
“It was huge. It was really huge,” Patton said. “Not only prohibiting wear and tear, but meaningless outings. I feel like we were put in good situations. There were no times when we would look at each other like, ‘What’s going on?’
“You could kind of think along with Buck. We just followed along on his coattails and he would make right decisions in big situations. So we kind of just were along for the ride down in the bullpen and just had confidence each one of us would do the best we could at that time.”
One other pitching item that is big with Showalter is pitchers’ times to home plate when pitching out of the stretch. He references this often, pointing out that a lot of young pitchers are lacking in this area.
O’s prospect Kevin Gausman said he was decent holding runners with his time to the plate in college and he’s gotten better as an Oriole.
“I’ve been doing pretty good at that,” Gausman said. “That is one thing that I have really been consistent with and pretty quick to the plate. With (Matt) Wieters back there, we don’t have to be perfect. Get it over the plate and he’ll do the rest. But that is something they focused on a lot last year and they are trying to do that again this year.
“When I got here to big league camp I really noticed how important it is. The first day when we had our pitcher’s meeting, that is one thing they really put a big emphasis on.”
Yes, but does quickening your time to the plate impact the effectiveness of your pitches?
“No, not at all,” Gausman said.
Here is some minor league math: Some cuts at the Orioles’ minor league camp are likely coming pretty soon. There could be between 20 and 40 players released by the Orioles between now and opening day for the affiliates.
Here is the math. The O’s now have 175 players in minor league camp. You heard that right, 175. Now you can figure on about 25 or so still coming down from the Orioles major league camp. So that puts you at 200.
There will be about 100 to 115 kept for the four full-season affiliates. The O’s usually keep around 60 or so in extended spring training. So it appears that the numbers game is going to victimize some players, maybe even a few dozen.