Orioles manager Brandon Hyde didn’t know which relievers to trust this season. Who could get the big outs in the middle and late innings. Who could stay on a roll instead of reverting.
Some of the splits increased the degree of difficulty for Hyde as he tried to match up.
* Left-handers batted .222/250/.303 with one home run in 104 plate appearances against southpaw Richard Bleier this season, but right-handers hit .355/.392/.612 with five home runs in 131 plate appearances.
Bleier didn’t surrender a home run last season in 31 games before undergoing lat surgery. Left-handers slashed .283/.328/.302 and right-handers .288/.293/.411.
Right-handers have slashed .306/.334/.456 against Bleier in 403 career plate appearances and left-handers .228/.275/.316 in 322 plate appearances.
Bleier registered a 3.67 ERA and 1.037 WHIP in 24 home games this season and a 6.99 ERA and 1.588 WHIP in 29 road games. But Hyde won’t shy away from him away from Camden Yards. He can’t afford to do it.
* Mychal Givens led Orioles relievers with 11 saves and 86 strikeouts. He ranked among 11 players in the majors with at least 10 saves and seven holds. He allowed only two of 21 inherited runners to score, tying him for the third-lowest percentage (9.5) in the majors among pitchers with at least 20 inherited runners.
No one seemed to talk about it or notice.
Givens’ ERA has risen from 2.75 in 2017 to 3.99 in 2018 and 4.57 this summer. He owned a career 18-3 record through 2017, but has gone 2-13 over the past two seasons.
Still not the hottest topic of conversation.
The innings splits became the obsession and a concern within the organization.
Opponents were 0-for-10 with one walk and five strikeouts against Givens in the seventh inning. He had a 1.93 ERA in the eighth and opponents slashed .165/.224/.278. But he registered a 6.69 ERA in the ninth and opponents batted .252/.344/.526.
Extra innings also were an issue, with Givens allowing two hits - including a home run - in six at-bats. He also walked a batter.
Of Givens’ last five appearances in 2019, four came in the eighth inning and one in the seventh. He struck out the side on Sept. 27 in Boston for his seventh hold and was spared a home run two days later on Stevie Wilkerson’s sensational leaping catch at the right field fence to rob Jackie Bradley Jr.
The Orioles will check the trade market on Givens, who’s projected by MLBTradeRumors.com to make $3.2 million in arbitration. If he’s in camp next spring, he seems more likely to inherit setup type duties if roles are defined.
(What’s more likely is that Hyde will use his best relievers in various high-leverage situations.)
Givens posted a 2.86 ERA and 1.059 WHIP in 27 road games, but a 5.97 ERA and 1.298 WHIP in 31 home games. Hyde also won’t let that one influence his decisions. It’s just an odd split.
* Left-hander Paul Fry needs to remind himself that a pitcher’s record isn’t an important stat. It should soften the blow from his nine losses in 10 decisions.
The 5.34 ERA and 1.448 WHIP over 57 1/3 innings were more disturbing.
Fry doesn’t fit the mold of a lefty specialist, considering that left-handed hitters have slashed .255/.367/.425 against him and right-handers have slashed .233/.322/.306. But he also knows that he can’t repeat the home run issues of 2019.
Of the seven homers allowed by Fry, six came against left-handed hitters. The Rangers’ Rougned Odor, also a left-handed hitter, belted the only homer off Fry in 2018.
Fry actually held left-handed hitters to a .118 average (6-for-51) in the first half this season, fourth-lowest in the majors among relievers in a minimum 50 at-bats. He led the Orioles with 66 appearances, tied for the fifth-highest total among left-handers in the American League.
* Lefty Tanner Scott has specialist potential, but again, he’s been unable to sustain his success and become a trustworthy option for Hyde.
Nineteen walks in 26 1/3 innings won’t cut it.
Left-handers slashed .188/.328/.354 against Scott this year and right-handers slashed .358/.469/.528. Lefties hit .218/.317/.322 in 2018 and right-handers hit .295/.377/.500.
* Branden Kline was a reverse-splits reliever this season.
Right-handers batted .310/.373/.510 against Kline and left-handers slashed .217/.324/.500.
Kline didn’t surrender a run in 8 1/3 innings last month, but he allowed six hits and walked six batters. He had one clean outing among nine, retiring all five batters he faced on Sept. 21 against the Mariners.
Here’s another odd split: Kline registered a 2.08 ERA and 1.077 WHIP in 11 day games and a 7.71 ERA and 1.750 WHIP in 23 night games.
Opponents batted .174/.264/.239 against Kline in day games and .316/.391/.614 at night.