If a relief pitcher gets to the mound enough, even one that is having a good season, eventually something will go wrong. For 26-year-old Orioles bullpen lefty Tanner Scott, yesterday was that day. He entered with two on and two outs in a 1-1 tie in the last of the eighth to face Brett Gardner. But Gleyber Torres had not started for New York and was sent up as a pinch-hitter.
Torres took a 97 mph Scott fastball for ball one. Then Scott threw another 97 mph heater. It was down in the zone, but found too much plate. Torres ripped one 102 mph off the bat into the right-center gap to score two runs. The Yankees had a 3-1 lead. Three outs later, they had a win and a four-game sweep.
Scott had allowed just four of 20 inherited runners to score this year during the best season of his young career. But now he has to bounce back from a tough day.
“I mean, yesterday happened yesterday,” Scott said this afternoon during a Zoom interview. “Today is a new day. I mean, you have to move forward. I did make a mistake in leaving a pitch over the plate to Gleyber Torres. He’s a good hitter. I went in and didn’t do my job. But today is a new day, and if I’m out there, I know I’ll do my job.”
You like to hear Scott speak with such confidence. He feels being more confident is the biggest reason he is having a year where he is 0-0 with a 1.47 ERA and a 1.036 WHIP. From 2017 through 2019, he posted an ERA of 5.31 and a WHIP of 1.648 in 83 games.
His walk rate is down from 5.4 over those seasons to 4.4. So is his strikeout rate, from 12.7 to 9.8, but the O’s will probably take that trade. In 2020, Scott allows just 4.9 hits and 0.5 homers for every nine innings pitched.
On the stat sheet, this season has been a big leap forward for him. One where he looks more like the late-inning weapon the Orioles felt he could be. One where he looks like a fixture in future O’s bullpens.
“I mean, I would just say confidence (is the key) and going out there and attacking,” he said. “Trusting everything I have. I’ve been saying that and that is probably what it is. Going out there and saying, ‘Here it is, try to hit it.’ Going out there and attacking each pitch at a time. Don’t get frustrated with just one pitch (that doesn’t get a good result). Move on to the next.”
And staying on the big league roster the entire year can’t hurt his cause to become more effective and consistent.
He had four stints in the majors last year. He was on the big league roster from April 11-30, June 21-July 1, July 20-26 and from Sept. 1 through the end of the season. He went 1-1 with a 4.78 ERA in Baltimore and 3-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 30 games for Triple-A Norfolk. Now he could be off that shuttle for good.
“It’s definitely helped me a lot. I mean, everyone wants to be here and everyone wants to stick. So that has definitely really helped me that I’ve been here all year,” he said.
Scott said this season has been challenging for more reasons than just trying to get batters out. It has also challenged players to meet the extensive daily protocols to attempt to stay healthy and avoid coronavirus.
That has made this year at times seem short and at times not.
“It is definitely a mixture of both,” Scott said. “It’s weird and definitely different. We had spring training and then it stopped. Went into quarantine and then the summer camp. It feels like it has been short and long. Kind of different. That is the only way I can explain it.
“You don’t want to go on the COVID injured list, so you are more worried about going out in public at the beginning of the day. Even if you go to the grocery store.”
Five Orioles in the top 100: With two members of the Oakland A’s losing rookie eligibility, meaning they have graduated from the Baseball America top 100 list, the O’s now have five players ranked.
A player will lose rookie eligibility when they exceed 130 at-bats. Mountcastle is at 72 at-bats through 21 games. He is batting .347/.415/.569 with four doubles, four homers and 15 RBIs in 82 plate appearances. Mountcastle recorded eight multi-hit games in his first 20 career games and that is the second-most in O’s history. Outfielder Curtis Goodwin had 10 in 1995.
This is Mountcastle’s third appearance on the Baseball America top 100. He was No. 71 in 2018 and No. 90 in 2019. He has been ranked six times within the O’s top seven prospects, reaching as high as No. 2 for the club at the end of 2018.