He has carried a pretty heavy innings load so far, leading the team among relievers in innings. He has five more than Tanner Scott, the reliever with the next most innings after him.
Right now, he said, rest can wait.
“I love it,” Plutko said. “I told Darren (Holmes, assistant pitching coach), ‘Don’t come and ask me if I’m up or down today. I’m up every day. If you have to ask, then you guys make the decision for me.’ But, you know, I want to be up every single day. In a situation in Cleveland where I wasn’t necessarily a guy that would get my name called as much as I am now, I tell ‘em, ‘I sat the bench over there. I don’t want to sit the bench anymore. Get me in this game.’
“So, I love the workload. I want to lead major league baseball in innings. Quality, effective innings, as well, out of the bullpen. So, I hope Hyder (manager Brandon Hyde) keeps calling my name because that is exactly, when I got traded, this is exactly what I wanted,” said Plutko, acquired March 27 from Cleveland for cash considerations.
During a Zoom interview he was upbeat about the Orioles bullpen, which could not protect a 4-2 lead last night, and very upbeat about young right-hander Dean Kremer, who allowed two runs over five innings Friday night.
The Orioles bullpen ranks fourth in the American League and eighth in the majors with a 3.48 ERA.
“I’m here and I’m happy to get outs whenever my name is called,” Plutko said. “Fortunately, it’s been quite a lot and I’ve enjoyed it. Our young starters here are incredibly good. Dean Kremer has really, in my opinion, turned the corner his last couple of outings. And you know, Lopie (Jorge López) is one of the most talented guys I’ve ever seen throw a baseball in my life. He reminds me a ton of Danny Salazar, a former starter with Cleveland. It’s been a lot of fun to watch these guys go out there, and I just get ready for when my name is called and truly, that is about it.”
The O’s went to the seventh last night leading the Yankees 4-2, but Cole Sulser allowed a hit and walk with one out and Travis Lakins Sr. came on to face pinch-hitter Gio Urshela. But Urshela fouled off four straight pitches and then hit one out to right for a three-run shot and a 5-4 lead and eventual win by that score.
As a veteran, Plutko was asked if he talks to the bullpen pitchers about letting a game get away.
“I mean, I think it’s just keep doing what we’re doing,” he said. “You’re not going to be perfect every night. Last night, you know, obviously got away from us. And, not what we were trying to do. Definitely some mistakes that we made on our end. I think one of the runs that scored was on a walk, you know, a big home run and even myself, I came in and walked the leadoff guy after we scored to put us up two. So, just a few mistakes that have been coming around to score that maybe we covered up earlier on in the year. Just kind of get back to pitching well and not making those couple of little mistakes.”
The O’s bullpen has thrown 144 2/3 innings for the season, the sixth-most in the AL. Is that challenging for the bullpen?
“Yeah, I think it is, more series-to-series than over a long period of time. All the sudden you start getting, you know, your horses in the game early over the course of a series. Now I have to face Giancarlo Stanton twice and maybe have to go about differently how I attack him from one at-bat to the next. Obviously, over the course of the season you’re going to see guys in your division quite a bit. But just even series-to-series, that kind of stuff can definitely catch up with you.
“Like I said, I thought Dean threw the ball really well last night, though. You know, I think he has like 10 starts in the big leagues and I’m pretty sure 20 of them have been against the Yankees. So, it’s like every time he takes the ball it’s against the Yankees again. Two solo shots and otherwise dominant, to Aaron Judge, who is hot as the sun right now. Pretty good outing when you are talking about a kid who is trying to figure it out in the big leagues,” he said.