Since opening day, there have been a few changes in the Orioles bullpen. Among those traded, sent to the minors or injured are Richard Bleier, Nate Karns, Jimmy Yacabonis, Pedro Araujo and Mike Wright. John Means is now in the rotation. New additions since then include Shawn Armstrong, Branden Kline, Evan Phillips, Yefry Ramirez and Gabriel Ynoa.
Changeover was not unexpected on a young team with several optionable arms.
“It is the business part of it,” said Givens, who has an ERA of 1.04 in his last six games. “Some guys, unfortunately had to go down to work on some stuff and we had to get some arms in the bullpen to help us going forward. I think we have good youth and prospects down in the minors that will help us through the year. We’ve got a good core right now. So we’ll keep playing our game and competing and mold our bullpen to try and make it the strength that it used to be.
“Yeah, right now with what is going on, there is opportunity for guys to show their skills and that they belong here. Anyone that comes up is trying to show they can stay here and help us win. Going forward, we just have to stick together, be one unit and have each other’s back.”
Givens has a 3.06 ERA for the season, but he’s also stranded all nine runners he inherited upon entering games. He and teammate Paul Fry are two of four relievers in the majors to not allow an inherited runners to score (minimum nine inherited). Fry has stranded all 13.
Givens has thrown more than an inning eight times in 13 outings. He’s not afraid to do some heavy lifting and pitch in big spots, no matter the inning. He’s had at least a four-out save in three of his four saves.
“I think it’s the same challenge that I’ve gone through,” he said. “Nothing different. I just need to keep carrying myself as the guy in the bullpen with the (most) service time and mold our bullpen. Just want to see our bullpen become the strength of the team again. Just want to set an example like was done for me. With guys like Zack Britton, Brad Brach, Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz. They taught me about pitching out of the ‘pen and to have confidence and pride. It’s not always about how your ERA looks, but also inherited runners. We need to keep guys from scoring. That is the important thing. We just need to keep doing what we are doing and have fun.”
Over the last eight games, the O’s bullpen has an ERA of 1.82. There is still plenty of room for improvement with a ‘pen ERA that ranks last in the American League at 5.95 for the season. But that number was well over 7.00 in mid April.