The Orioles bullpen underwent more changes today as right-hander Joey Krehbiel returned to the active roster and righty Logan Gillaspie was optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk. Krehbiel’s last game was June 2, and he's been out since with right shoulder discomfort and inflammation. But he has been throwing while not active and said today he feels very ready for his return to the active roster.
Krehbiel, who has pitched in the majors with Arizona, Tampa Bay and the Orioles, was claimed by Baltimore off waivers from Tampa Bay on Sept. 21, 2021. He was off to a good start to his season before his IL stint, going 2-3 with a 2.74 ERA over 22 games and 23 innings. He has recorded a 1.130 WHIP and has allowed just one run in seven innings over his last six appearances.
“I actually only took maybe like five or six days off in a row not throwing,” he said in the O’s clubhouse pregame. “Just getting in the training room and (they were) taking care of me every day. I have thrown every day. First day I threw, just to play catch, then took a day off and for like the last 10 days, about eight of those days I’ve thrown every day.
“Threw off the mound first time just 15 fastballs, felt great. Next couple days off, then threw like an aggressive full-on bullpen. All my pitches and it felt even better than before. So twice (off the mound) I guess.”
And after pitching well for the Orioles to start this season, waiting out his IL time of 15 days was not easy.
“I think for the last 11 years I’ve been a reliever and I’ve never been sitting in the dugout. It’s definitely a blessing that I can get out there and get back to what I’m used to," he said.
Krehbiel’s good year has included solid numbers in important reliever areas. He's allowed a batting average of just .162 with runners on base and .160 with runners in scoring position. He's stranded nine of 14 inherited runners, showing a fastball that averages 93.8 mph along with heavy slider (34 percent) and changeup (38 percent) usage.
“Honestly, I just am trying to be consistent. I’m trying not to walk anyone. Trying to throw strikes and trying to avoid, you know, strikeouts are not always the best thing. If I can go out there and get three outs in 10 pitches, then I’m available for tomorrow instead of trying to strike guys out and throwing 30 pitches. That’s very important," Krehbiel said.
Krehbiel has enjoyed his time in Birdland in this remodeled O’s bullpen, where several waiver claims have come together to form a very strong unit.
“It’s special, huh," he said of the bullpen performance to date. "We’re really doing our job. Guys are coming in and we’re not, you know, pitching better than we’re supposed to, we’re just doing exactly what, you know, the front office and everyone that put this team together was supposed to do. Honestly, it’s really cool to be a part of."
And the bullpen, often a team within a team, is very close this year on the Orioles.
“Yeah, I mean spend however long in the minor leagues or if you’re a rookie or if’s your first time up here and you are 28 or 22, the taste is great. Being down there opposed to being here," Krehbiel said. "You get a little taste of it and if you do go back down, it’s like ‘Wow, the next time I get there I’m going to do everything I can to stay.’ And I feel like that is what we’re doing. There are a lot of hungry guys down there that want to be here all year and stay here the rest of their career.”