Thoughts on López's return and wondering what else is going on with the Orioles

On the same day that the Orioles claimed their former closer, Jorge López, on waivers from the Marlins, manager Brandon Hyde told the assembled media at Chase Field that former Rule 5 closer Tyler Wells has arm fatigue.

I’m tired from trying to project this month’s bullpen. I’m not getting any closer.

My take from the East Coast is that López is insurance, a depth move with Félix Bautista on the 15-day injured list and Wells perhaps delayed in his return to the Orioles. The timing might be coincidental, but we honestly don’t know if that’s the case.

The trade deadline passed and the only way to acquire players is via claims and minor league deals. López isn’t eligible to make the postseason roster because he arrived in the organization after Aug. 31, but he can assist in the quest to win the division title.

Then again, is he equipped to do so?

López was an All-Star in 2022 before executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias took some heat for sending him to the Twins for pitchers Yennier Cano, Cade Povich, Juan Nuñez and Juan Rojas – while the Orioles were in contention for the playoffs. After they already shipped first baseman Trey Mancini to the Astros.

It does look good now. Right?

Cano was an All-Star this season and is inheriting bulk closer duties from Bautista. Povich is the organization’s No. 12 prospect in MLB Pipeline rankings. Nuñez is 29th.

Chayce McDermott is 11th and Seth Johnson, recovered from Tommy John surgery and on a rehab assignment, is 16th. They were involved in the three-team trade that cost Mancini.

Maybe it’s best to leave the wheeling and dealing to the experts.

The All-Star version of López has disappeared. He posted a 4.81 ERA and 1.414 WHIP in 60 games with the Twins, and a 9.26 ERA and 2.486 WHIP in 12 games with the Marlins. He was placed on the restricted and injured lists in June for mental health reasons.

The Orioles could view López as fixable mechanically, if that’s the issue. Boost his confidence. Allow him to find his comfort zone again with a team he loves. And they can move on from him if it doesn’t work out. Otherwise, he’s under team control in 2024.

“You know, Lopie is someone a lot of us in that clubhouse are really close with,” Hyde told the media. “He had some really good moments the first half last year. He was the best closer in baseball. … We’re hoping he can help us down the stretch.

“Hopefully he will feel at home and pitch well for us. He's got a huge arm. We know a lot about him."

López didn’t report to the club yesterday. A corresponding roster move is on hold, and it could be Joey Krehbiel, who was recalled on Friday. He tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts in three appearances before last night, when he worked the ninth and surrendered a solo homer to catcher Gabriel Moreno.

As for Wells, he hasn’t pitched since Aug. 25 with Triple-A Norfolk. The arm fatigue would make more sense if the Orioles were stretching him out, but it’s the opposite. He’s tossed one inning in each of his two appearances with the Tides. But these things happen.

Hyde said the Orioles hope that he’s active again “soon.” I’ve seen “soon” turn into weeks. Or it can be a matter of days. But like many others, I assumed that he was on the verge of being recalled. That Krehbiel might be on the clock because of him.

Just when I think that I’ve figured it out, they pull me back into a state of confusion.

Bautista is in Arizona and reportedly had a glove on his hand yesterday and later stretched with his teammates – sans glove, I’m assuming. Does that sound like a man who’s undergoing surgery? But updates remain unavailable, as does Bautista to the media.

This can’t go on much longer, of course.

And finally, we have Ryan Mountcastle, who was scratched from Friday’s lineup after being listed as the designated hitter and didn’t play last night. The explanation was “illness.” There are vertigo suspicions, or at least the possibility of similar symptoms, because no one is denying it. But no one is confirming it, either.

“Feeling a little bit better,” Hyde said. “Still under the weather. Hopefully he is available off the bench tonight.”

That last line was repeated when asked about vertigo.

A loss for any period would hurt. Mountcastle has slashed .357/.429/.564/ in 42 games since returning from the injured list. Isn’t it enough that the best closer is shelved?

The baseball gods are picking on a lot of teams. The Orioles don’t get a free pass.

But there they were last night, winning 7-3 to extend their streak to 83 series without being swept, tied for third-longest in baseball history. Their 84 wins top last season’s total. The Rays lost, leaving the Orioles 2 ½ games ahead in the division race.

Don’t know how the bullpen is going to look next week and in the weeks that follow. Don’t know what’s going on with Bautista. Don’t know if Mountcastle is in this afternoon's lineup, is day-to-day, or in danger of returning to the IL.

Don’t know if there’s anything out there that can stop the Orioles.

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