Latest look at Orioles' pitching

OAKLAND – Former Orioles manager Buck Showalter used to warn that he didn’t want to hear about a problem unless you had a solution. The first part is easy. Don’t point it out and offer nothing more than the obvious.

The bullpen over the course of the entire 2024 season hasn’t qualified as a major issue, but losing left-hander Danny Coulombe increased the urgency to make at least one trade.

Craig Kimbrel burst past his slump and has allowed only one earned run in his last 21 innings. Save after save after save, some less dramatic than others. And he's an absolute All-Star snub.

Yennier Cano is a weapon on most nights but doesn’t seem quite like the All-Star model from 2023. No one was beating that drum this month, but he struck out two batters yesterday in a scoreless eighth and has a 2.89 ERA.

I think most teams would take that.

Left-handed hitters are 5-for-53 against right-hander Jacob Webb, making him a reverse specialist, in case you’re wondering why manager Brandon Hyde goes with that particular matchup.

Right-handers are 21-for-93 (.226), so Webb is having a pretty good year. Only five of 23 inherited runners have scored, and the one from yesterday came on a botched double play ball. And he does reduce the void from the bullpen losing a high-leverage lefty, though no one is pretending that Coulombe’s absence is anything less than hurtful.

None of Coulombe's 13 inherited runners scored before his surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow, adding salt to that wound.

Coulombe won’t receive votes for Most Valuable Oriole because of his limited games, but it’s like he’s proving a point here.

Cole Irvin gives the Orioles bulk relief, the kind we saw in Oakland. He won’t always surrender five runs in four innings. Just one of those days. And he enabled Hyde to avoid burning out the ‘pen and forcing a roster move, though backup catcher James McCann had to pitch in the eighth.

It could have been a lot worse.

Bryan Baker was really effective early in his return to the Orioles but has been charged with six runs in his last three appearances over 2 2/3 innings to raise his ERA to 5.91. Dillon Tate allowed three runs and three hits and two runs and three hits in back-to-back outings this month, registered a combined three scoreless in his next two appearances and gave up four Saturday in two innings to leave his ERA at 4.31 with a 1.34 WHIP.

Half of Tate's 16 inherited runners have crossed the plate.

Keegan Akin has registered a 0.99 WHIP but he surrendered a three-run double and two-run homer Thursday in Seattle, and his failings in some critical left-on-left matchups can test the organization’s patience.

Let’s also point out that left-handed hitters are batting .208 with a .644 OPS against Akin. We just tend to remember the blowups, like Seattle’s J.P. Crawford clearing the bases against Akin Thursday in Seattle, or the game in Chicago when Andrew Benintendi walked, Nicky Lopez singled and Gavin Sheets tripled with the bases loaded, or the tie-breaking, two-run homer to Nolan Gorman in the resumption of the suspended game in St. Louis.

I’ll rejoin the chorus that wonders if there are in-house options for the club, while also emphasizing the need for a trade that doesn’t cost a package of big-time prospects. It’s a reliever, for crying out loud.

Triple-A Norfolk left-hander Trey McGough lowered his ERA to 2.57 Saturday night with 3 1/3 scoreless innings in Durham. The former Mount St. Mary’s pitcher and Rule 5 pick in the Triple-A phase earned his promotion from Double-A Bowie after posting a 1.83 ERA and 0.814 WHIP in 12 games.

Norfolk starter Chayce McDermott continues to intrigue as a possibility in the ‘pen with his 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings, but the 5.4 walks could hold him back from a promotion. And he lasted only one-third of an inning Saturday and allowed four runs with two hits and three walks.

The smart move might be to keep developing him as a starter until maybe the Orioles reach to the point where he gets the DL Hall treatment, but from the right side.

Left-hander Tucker Davidson is stretched out and has a 2.38 ERA and .213 opponents’ average in 19 games. He tossed five scoreless innings on June 30 before allowing two runs and three hits in four innings Friday night.

Nolan Hoffman didn’t allow an earned run in 19 consecutive innings but surrendered two runs and four hits Friday in two-thirds of an inning.

Get ‘em while they’re hot.

The 40-man roster has an opening and Coulombe and Kyle Bradish can be transferred to the 60-day injured list. Space isn’t an issue, and that doesn’t take into account some fringy players who could go on waivers.  

The Orioles must decide whether to keep giving Cade Povich starts after Saturday’s thrashing. Do they react to a very loud hiccup or stay patient with the kid, who mostly has impressed and whose next turn would come against the Yankees? Do they change Irvin’s role again?

The rotation also is an obvious point of emphasis at the deadline.

Pitchers will be recalled or have their contracts selected. Elias will find trade partners by the deadline. The staff won’t grow stale.

In the meantime, the Orioles keep finding ways to compensate and to win. They lead the free-falling Yankees by three games. Other clubs gladly would take their problems.

Strengthen the middle relief, get a starter to follow Corbin Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez or slot between them, and make that intended run at a championship.


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