Lefty Nick Vespi returned to the Orioles active roster and bullpen today in advance of the series opener with the Tampa Bay Rays. Vespi has had one strong season, allowing no earned runs at Triple-A all season and allowing six of his eight earned MLB runs in one outing.
In 31 games between Norfolk and Baltimore he has thrown 26 scoreless outings. He has gone 2-1 with an ERA of 0.00, allowing three unearned runs over 21 1/3 at Triple-A, giving up just eight hits with four walks, 28 strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.56.
With the Orioles, his ERA was 0.79 after his first nine big-league outings. Then on June 29 at Seattle he gave up six runs in just 1/3 of an inning. It was a major outlier among his games this year.
“You know, to be honest, I wish I knew (what went wrong that one game),” Vespi said today. “I was throwing strikes but things were not going my way. I kept trying to battle and put the team in a good position. Unfortunately, it didn’t go my way that day.
“I talk with Holty (Chris Holt) and Holmesy (Darren Holmes) afterward. They put the confidence in my head and said, ‘Hey, you know that is not you. That happened. Whatever. Flush it and get back out there and do what you know how to do.'”
A few days after that outing, on July 6, he was optioned back to the minors, but returned to the Baltimore clubhouse today.
“I went back down there and kept doing what I was doing before and just kept going. It’s awesome to be back. I’ve been extremely blessed to up here earlier and now that I am back, I will focus on learning from the other guys," he said.
Maybe his comfort level is even better with the team now that he spent so much time earlier this year in the Baltimore bullpen.
“Yeah, I’m always comfortable up here. I think the guys do a good job of making me feel I belong. I’ve learned from them a lot too. Our bullpen is doing so well this year. Gives me a lot of confidence when I go in the game,” he said.
Vespi brings a fresh arm to the Baltimore 'pen. He has not pitched since throwing a scoreless inning on Friday and he pitched just three times – throwing three scoreless – since his July 6 return to Norfolk.
He waited a long time to get his big league chance. He was drafted in round 18 in 2015 by the Orioles and was a starter earlier in his pro career. Now he is looking to continue putting up zeroes out of the bullpen.
“Honestly it’s about attacking the strike zone with your best stuff. You see guys go in there and let it rip every pitch. They throw a lot of strikes and have a lot of success.
“I always like to think I belong here. Sometimes the business side takes over. But I feel I do belong here and I am comfortable and confident here. Just need to throw all my pitches for strikes and stay in the zone with my all my stuff. That will get results," he said.