Bullpen bringing relief to Hyde despite yesterday’s issues

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles are going to be making some tough roster cuts relating to their bullpen. They didn’t get any easier yesterday despite the runs allowed in Dunedin.

Givens-Slings-Orange-ST-sidebar.jpgMychal Givens tried to work through a second inning against the Blue Jays and surrendered a two-run homer to Randal Grichuk after hitting a batter and throwing a wild pitch.

He’s on the team.

Hunter Harvey was scored upon for the first time when he hit a batter and Santiago Espina launched a 96 mph fastball onto the new boardwalk in left field. He issued a walk, struck out two and came out before completing the inning.

He’s on the team.

Isaac Mattson, part of the four-pitcher return for Dylan Bundy, replaced Harvey and recorded a strikeout while pumping 93 mph fastballs. He also gave up a triple to Danny Jansen, but stranded him.

He came over from minor league camp and isn’t on the team.

Eric Hanhold served up a two-out, two-strike solo home run to Andy Burns in the sixth inning.

He hadn’t allowed a run in his first six appearance and still could be on the team.

Heading into yesterday’s game, Orioles relievers had posted a 1.87 ERA with 11 earned runs in 53 innings since March 1. They allowed 37 hits with 14 walks and 59 strikeouts.

Five relievers in camp hadn’t surrendered a run heading into yesterday - Harvey, Hanhold, Shawn Armstrong, Miguel Castro and Branden Kline. It’s down to three.

“We have a lot of guys throwing the ball well,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Just what we were hoping for. And hopefully we come down to the last few days and have some really tough decisions. That means that things are going well.

“There are a number of guys who are really throwing the ball great, especially out of the bullpen. Let’s hope it continues and we’ve got to make some tough decisions at the end.”

These words were spoken during the media gathering prior to a 14-2 drubbing by the Blue Jays. Hyde wasn’t taking them back.

Dillon Tate is a pleasant complication. He’s strung together three scoreless outings in a row, totaling four innings, with no walks and five strikeouts.

Tate was able to work two frames Tuesday night against the Braves, an important feat for a team heavy in one-inning relievers.

“He just looks a little bit more aggressive,” Hyde said. “I like his mound presence. Looks more confident on the mound to me than he did last spring.

“He is a guy with a lot of confidence. That 95 mph sinker is a real weapon, and it looks to me like he has more confidence in his off-speed stuff, as well. That changeup he threw in the outing against the Yankees was a plus changeup, so he’s got the three-pitch mix with a good slider, the fastball velo has ticked up from last spring and you can see from the dugout the tilt that he’s got and the life he has with his fastball.

“To back that up with a really good changeup that he’s had, especially recently, it’s a nice recipe for some shutout innings, and that’s what he’s been doing.”

There’s also Cody Carroll with one run, one walk and seven strikeouts in six innings, and Cole Sulser with one earned run (two total) and eight strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. Hector Velázquez is new to the discussion as a possible long reliever.

Hyde knows exactly where the bullpen needs to improve when he reflects on the meltdowns of 2019.

“It’s all about strike one for us,” he said. “Strike one, being able to win 1-1 counts, and when you have leverage counts being able to put guys away.”

The Orioles have been doing it a lot more this spring, with yesterday’s game viewed more like a humongous hiccup.

* Stevie Wilkerson exited yesterday’s game after fouling a ball off his right shin, but he didn’t sustain a break. He’s fine.

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