SARASOTA, Fla. - Before he was optioned to the minors on Sunday morning, bullpen right-hander Cody Carroll made a nice impression on his new coaches. We certainly should expect to see him on the roster during the 2019 season.
Acquired from the Yankees last July 24 in the Zack Britton trade, Carroll was not scored on in six of his seven spring games. Over seven innings, he allowed five hits and two runs with one walk, nine strikeouts, three saves and an 0.86 WHIP. Over his last five spring games, he threw five scoreless allowing one hit with one walk and six strikeouts.
“He looked great,” Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said Sunday of Carroll. “He’s got two plus pitches in the fastball and breaking ball. He’s still young. He’s another guy who, while I’m very excited about how he looked in camp and how well he did statistically in camp, I learned and the evidence bears out that real full-season minor league statistics have a little more predictive information to them than spring training statistics.”
Carroll posted solid Triple-A stats last year. Between Scranton and Norfolk, he went 4-0 with a 2.72 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. He was ranked the Yankees’ No. 30 prospect at the of the 2017 season.
The 26-year-old Carroll told me a few days ago that he was much more comfortable on the team this year after trying to quickly get to know his new teammates last season after the trade. He also wanted to make a few tweaks to his pitching after allowing an ERA of 9.00 with the Orioles in 17 innings in 2018.
“I really just want to get back to myself,” he said. “The end of last year was not the best for me. So I just wanted to get back to myself in the offseason. Need to do what I can do.
“I was trying to do too much last year at the end of the year. Trying to hit corners and not just going after guys, which I have always done. I got away from that a little bit. So need to do that and keep working on command, which is huge for me. You have to be yourself and trust yourself. These guys here are good. But you’re here, too, so you are just as good and you have to remember that.”
Carroll said he has quickly developed a solid relationship with new pitching coach Doug Brocail.
“Broc has been awesome. Anything you need, questions, any life questions, he’s great,” Carroll said. “He is just real approachable. He talks to everyone the same whether you have no time in the majors or ten years. Everyone is the same in his eyes, which is awesome. He makes it easy to come to the ballpark. You want to see him and hear what he has to say.”
Possible changes in rotation use: It should be no surprise to anyone by now that these Orioles are data-driven. They will make decisions with a heavy use of analytics and look at all information and data in making decisions. That also applies to manager Brandon Hyde and in-game decisions, such as when to pull a starting pitcher.
It’s also no secret that most pitchers struggle more when facing a lineup for the third time in the game. O’s starters Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner and Dylan Bundy all had worse stats the third time through a lineup last year than they’ve had in their careers.
Cobb allowed a batting average against and an OPS of .312 and .916 the third time through last year, but the numbers are much better at .255 and .715 for his career. Cashner’s numbers were .340 and 1.027 last season and are .284 and .805 for his career. Bundy was .289 and .897 in 2018 and is .256 and .824 over his career.
So the new skipper will take that into consideration when deciding when to pull a starting pitcher. There are some teams in the majors now that yank a starter even before he gets to face a lineup the third time or early on after the lineup turns over. Cut off trouble even before it starts kind of thing.
“I don’t think any pitcher is happy to come out of a game,” Hyde said before Monday’s game in Lakeland. “But I think there’s so much written now and so many teams use that stat as something that’s important that I think guys are very aware of that, so I don’t think it’s a surprise anymore when maybe four years ago it would have been.
“I came from a heavy analytical team and very privy to being involved in those discussions and those conversations and why things are important. It opened my eyes a lot the last four years, being there and watching us have success. I’m open to everything. I want all that information. I want projected numbers and I want projected third time through the order stuff and I want projected splits and all these types of things.”
No doubt Hyde will keep the longer track record of these pitchers in mind. On a nightly basis, he’ll consider the score. A starter struggling with a 7-3 lead might get more of a chance than one struggling and down 3-1. He also must consider how rested his bullpen is that night and many other factors. It’s not just a case of making a change the third time through a lineup. But it’s clear that will be something very much on his mind during games in 2019.