Splitting up the Orioles bullpen

Major League Baseball’s plan to eliminate one-and-done relievers beginning next season can cause a person to rush for the splits.

I almost pulled a hamstring running the 40-yard overreact.

The idea is to make relievers face a minimum of three batters instead of just one, or pitch to the end of the half-inning in which they enter. Maybe to reduce mound visits and speed up a game that has proven too stubborn to pick up the pace, no matter how many new rules are implemented.

It seems necessary now that pitching staffs are supposed to be capped at 13. Benches can expand, already gaining some flexibility with 26-man rosters on the horizon through August.

Jesse Orosco pitched into his 60s, or so it seemed, due to his transformation from starter to closer to LOOGY. Brian Matusz became a key contributor in the Orioles bullpen under manager Buck Showalter because of his matchup ability.

David Ortiz was 4-for-29 with 13 strikeouts against Matusz and he needed a late surge to make it look that good. Brett Gardner was 2-for-19 with eight strikeouts. Colby Rasmus was 1-for-13 with six strikeouts and a strange personality. Josh Hamilton was 1-for-14 with nine strikeouts and he fanned at a crucial point in the 2012 wild card game in Arlington, Texas.

Derek Jeter was 14-for-26 with six doubles and gift bags for all the ladies, but that has nothing to do with the topic at (left) hand.

Showalter came up with the idea of making Mark Hendrickson a side-arming lefty specialist to possibly extend the former NBA power forward’s career. A 6-foot-9 pitcher throwing from a funky angle could torment hitters.

It didn’t work out as planned, but it certainly was worth a shot.

Paul Fry is left-handed, but batters who hit from that side this season slashed .250/.359/.480 against him and right-handers slashed .244/.343/.336. He can face at least three batters in an inning without feeling exposed unless he’s struggling for other reasons. Or he has a uniform malfunction.

Left-handers hit .222/.250/.303 against Richard Bleier this season, but right-handers slashed .355/.392/.612. I tend to toss out the 2019 season based on Bleier’s recovery from lat surgery, his early trip to the injured list and how he just never seemed like himself.

This is still a guy with a sub-2.00 ERA in each of his first three seasons in the majors.

Bleier’s always enjoyed more success against left-handers, but he isn’t a one-batter reliever.

Scott-Tanner-Delivers-at-White-Sox-Gray-Sidebar.jpgTanner Scott, on the other (left) hand, rolled out numbers this summer that gave him the appearance of one. Left-handers hit .188/.328/.354 and right-handers hit .358/.469/.528. In the previous season, left-handers hit .218/.317/.322 and right-handers hit .295/.377/.500.

He’s going to find it harder to stick in the majors in 2020, and it’s already been a challenge, if he can’t defend himself better against the right-handers.

(I dressed up as Captain Obvious on Halloween.)

You don’t find many right-handed pitchers who are dubbed specialists. It’s like calling someone a “crafty righty.” It just doesn’t happen.

Right-handers slashed .218/.293/.385 against Miguel Castro and left-handers hit .258/.386/.387. Right-handers slashed .179/.258/.328 against Mychal Givens and left-handers hit .267/.352/.578.

Shawn Armstrong was a reverse-splits guy with right-handers hitting .324/.400/.534 and left-handers hitting .209/.310/.302. Same with Branden Kline, who allowed a .310/.373/.510 slash line to right-handers and a .217/.324/.500 slash line to left-handers.

Right-handers hit .286/.393/.414 against Evan Phillips and left-handers hit .286/.436/.405).

(NP: “Even It Up” by Heart).

Right-handers batted .250/.355/.346 against Dillon Tate and left-handers batted .192/.323/.462.

The Orioles and Tate seem to be in agreement that he should stay in the bullpen, and he will be given every chance to head north for opening day.

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