Orioles right-hander Dan Straily is set to pitch Game 1 of today’s single-admission doubleheader against Minnesota at 4:05 p.m. at Camden Yards. Straily hopes to build on his last outing, a very solid start last Monday at Boston. He went five innings and allowed two hits and one run with one walk and two strikeouts on 86 pitches.
Released by the Marlins in late March in a money-saving move, Straily signed with the Orioles on April 5. Trying to knock off some rust, he gave up 10 runs over 4 2/3 innings in his first two Orioles games.
But at Fenway Park he looked much more like the pitcher who produced a 4.03 ERA in 495 1/3 innings the past three seasons. Last year with Miami, he went 5-6 with a 4.12 ERA in 23 starts.
Drafted in round 24 in 2009 by the Athletics, Straily has pitched for six big league teams. He’s been with Oakland, the Chicago Cubs, Houston, Cincinnati, Miami and now Baltimore.
In a brief clubhouse interview yesterday we managed to cover a lot of ground.
What made the last outing so much better for you?: “I was in the rotation. The start before, I found out the night before. The question was ‘Can you physically do it?’ The answer was yes. But I wasn’t as prepared. But getting back into a routine was big. I’m very much a creature of habit. Having the five days between the two games and have a side and throw long toss and everything I do in my routine, I was able to do all that. So I was just way more comfortable.”
How big is command for you?: “It’s big for any pitcher. But for anyone not throwing the ball 100 mph, it comes down to command. Starting pitchers, when you look back on a season and pinpoint your best games, it comes down to fastball command. If we can command fastballs, you don’t have to throw sliders and changeups in the zone. It really is that simple. The game really does simplify down to just that for most starting pitchers, and I’m included in that group.”
With so much velocity in the game now, do you get satisfaction getting outs with an average fastball velocity between 90 and 91 mph since 2015?: “Absolutely. Looking at the TV right now, we have Kyle Hendricks pitching. He’s a prime example of command and movement versus just pure stuff. And by stuff I mean just velocity in the context of this conversation.
“Baseball is trending toward more velocity, but at the end of the day, if you can get outs, you’ll have a job. If you get outs, no one cares. If you don’t get outs, then people point to velocity. If you continue to get outs, no one will complain about 90 or 92 or 93. There are plenty of guys that throw 90 that can get outs.”
When you were cut loose by Miami, there were reports of several teams interested in you. What led you to sign here?: “Indirectly, I’ve worked for Mike Elias before, when he was with Houston. I’ve been with some of the guys here - Hyder (Brandon Hyde), (Doug) Brocail, (John) Wasdin, a lot of the staff. There is something comfortable about knowing those guys. And they said, ‘Come start games for us.’ A lot of the other offers were to start a few games maybe until someone came off the DL and we’ll see what happens, or start out in the bullpen. Here it was the confidence they showed in me from the moment I was available. They were on the horn immediately when I was out there. I feel like, as a ballplayer, you really want to play somewhere you feel wanted, not tolerated. I feel wanted by these guys and that really played into the decision-making process for us.”
I asked Straily to expand on his recent comment about the O’s clubhouse. He said, “This one’s definitely more focused on winning today than some of the others that I’ve been in.” What did he mean by that, exactly?: “So, I’ve been in plenty of clubhouses and the focus isn’t necessarily ‘Do whatever it takes to win today.’ I’ve seen a lot of clubhouses that are quote unquote rebuilding and the focus is more about trying to develop players. Over here the sense I got right away was that yes, there is a sense of development but there is also a sense that we have to learn how to win.
“Sometimes development is just a fancy word for dealing with failure in baseball. When you say the word ‘development’ and that ‘We’ll let these guys develop in the big leagues,’ you are saying ‘I’ll let them fail. If they don’t fail, then great.’ That is how I view it. You are essentially saying ‘We’ll tolerate some failure,’ and over here the guys show up and everybody is ready to win today. Everyone is ready to compete today. It’s not about looking down the road a couple of months. Guys here are committed to each day. That was noticeable from the moment I arrived here.”