With Coulombe injury, bullpen looks for that next man up approach

The Orioles bullpen has to try to do it again. Continue with the next man up philosophy even as they lose another key member. Lefty Danny Coulombe with a 2.42 ERA in 29 games, went on the 15-day injured list before Tuesday’s game with left elbow inflammation.

The bullpen has been pitching all year without 2023 closer Félix Bautista, an All-Star and went through a stretch earlier this year when others, like current closer Craig Kimbrel, struggled.

The beat goes on and the recording of outs must go on.

It’s a Baltimore bullpen that began play last night with a 3.24 ERA that ranked third-best in the American League and fourth in the majors.

A bullpen that hit a speed bump in the eighth last night when Atlanta's Matt Olson hit a two-run shot off Keegan Akin. It tied the game 2-2 and ended the O's 23-innings scoreless run on the mound. But when Colton Cowser hit a two-run shot in the home eighth they had the lead again. The O's 4-2 win was their season-high sixth in a row.

Even counting that homer given up, in the last 10 games, the O's bullpen has allowed three runs, two earned in 28 2/3 innings for an ERA of 0.63. That ERA is 0.82 over the past 14 games with four earned runs allowed in 43 2/3.

A remarkable run of pitching and now they have to do it without a key member and leader.

“Hopefully he gets healthy quick,” bullpen right-hander Jacob Webb said of losing Coulombe for any length of time. “He will be missed out there. Such a good person and he does a good job motivating us as well. Very smart with the analytical side and helping guys look at things to tweak something here or there.

“He is one of the good vets to have in a bullpen. He is very smart, and he cares and that is someone you want on your team.”

Webb is having his own successes this year, pitching to an ERA of 1.76 with a 1.08 WHIP over 32 games, throwing scoreless ball his last eight outings.

Do the relievers need to avoid trying to do too much without Coulombe?

“No, I think in the bullpen we all kind of stay within ourselves. Whenever the manager asks for us, we compete every day," Webb said.

Why has the ‘pen been so stellar lately?

“I think our talent definitely helps. But everyone is just competing. We all understand where we are trying to be at the end of the year and are ready to help however we can,” said Webb who has thrown 10 1/3 scoreless allowing a .135 batting average those last eight outings.

I asked Webb if he ever checks out the full season pitching stats which show the Orioles third in the majors in team ERA, third in rotation ERA and fourth in bullpen ERA?

“It’s definitely nice when all the pitchers are clicking on all cylinders," he said. "This team is playing really good ball right now and it’s definitely showing. We have a tough stretch right now with a lot of games in a row and we are trying to get through it one game at a time.”

When Webb looks across the field this series, he sees a former team of his with Atlanta. The Braves drafted him in round 18 of the 2014 draft. He pitched in 34 games for the 2021 Braves team that won the World Series. He pitched in the playoffs that year but was not on the WS roster.

He, of course, has some fond memories of that championship club.

“That was fun. Lot of ups and downs for me during the year, but still got a ton of opportunity to help the team and made some playoff rosters. Fun memory. Much like this team a lot goes into having good chemistry in the clubhouse. You can see it in here for sure. This team has a lot of heart and a lot of fight. We are a bit young, but age is just a number. We come in here expecting to win,” Webb said.

The latest win: And the latest win came last night. The Yankees keep winning too, going 23-6 since May 11, and lead the Orioles (45-22) by 2.5 games for the division lead.

Baltimore has outscored its opponents 33-9 during the six straight wins. The team ERA is 1.00 in this span allowing six earned runs in six games.

Lefty Cade Povich threw six scoreless last night, denied his first MLB win when Olson's homer tied the game. But O's starters have not allowed an earned run the last three games over 18 1/3 innings.

In 40 games since April 29, the Orioles have gone 28-12 (.700) with a team ERA of 2.55 and .202 batting average against. 

A win today would give the Orioles their sixth series sweep of the year. That includes three-game sweeps of the Red Sox, Twins and Reds and four-game sweeps over the White Sox and Rays.





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