If the question is whether a pitcher who went 1-5 with a 6.32 ERA at Triple-A Durham this year while giving up 14 homers in 57 innings can shut down two good American League East teams on the road back to back, the answer is yes.
Ellis, 28, drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in round three in 2014, was traded by the Angels to the Braves and by the Braves to the Cardinals. Texas selected him in the 2018 Rule 5 draft and then immediately traded him to Kansas City. In the 2019 season, he lasted about one week and one scoreless inning with the Royals, who then sent him back to St. Louis. The Cardinals later released him and he turned up with Tampa Bay.
On Aug. 17, he threw four scoreless innings for the Rays against the Orioles in his second major league appearance. Eight days later, he pitched again - this time for the Orioles. They had claimed him on waivers on Aug. 20, and five days later, he was starting for the O’s against, of course, the Angels, where it all started for him. The outings at Rogers Centre and Yankee Stadium would soon follow.
You can’t make up this script.
It was a long and winding road that brought Ellis to Baltimore.
A pitcher with a career Triple-A ERA of 6.09 in 315 innings, a pitcher with more big league organizations (seven) then big league outings (four), took the mound yesterday in New York. And then threw five no-hit innings against a team that is likely playoff-bound.
So maybe it’s no big surprise that when he was asked Saturday how he is holding up through a long season, Ellis, after all his travels, said bring on those big league innings.
“Man, I’m in the show, dude,” he said. “I’m on full go right now. My arm, it’s irrelevant how I feel. I feel great. Give me the ball and let me chuck it. I know we’ll play good defense and put up some runs. Try to win as many ballgames as we can man, you know.”
We do know; we saw it.
In three games as an Oriole, he has an ERA of 2.84 and a WHIP of 0.87. In those last two games, Toronto and New York batters have gone a combined 2-for-32 against Ellis.
Baseball is full of surprises, just ask this guy who is doing just fine with his latest team.
“So far, it’s been great, man,” he said. “It really hits you. Camden Yards is awesome, man, but when you come pitch in Yankee Stadium, it’s surreal. It’s been a long journey to get here. I owe everything to my family and friends and everyone that helped me get to this point. But it was nice to kind of look around and take it all in. But then go out and compete and play and have fun. I’ve been working my whole life for this. Might as well have fun while I’m doing it.”
Ellis gave catcher Pedro Severino some credit for his strong day.
“Severino was mixing and matching with signs,” Ellis said. “Everything that he put down, I was all on board for. Gave me a good target. He kind of guided me through that. He’s been here a lot longer than I have, and he knows these guys, knows the team, knows how to call a game. So I kind of just let him take the reins and whatever he put down, I was just trying to make the best pitch I could.”
Said manager Brandon Hyde: “He’s kept us in the game in every start. That’s a tough environment to pitch in. Tough environment in Toronto also. And what can you say about five hitless innings? That was masterful. He really threw the ball well.”
He really showed us something in the last of the fifth. Nursing a 1-0 lead he walked two batters and faced DJ LeMahieu with two on and two outs. The game was on the line.
“I think for most starters, (if) you’ve kind of been doing it long enough, you kind of realize that point in the game, it’s a make or break for your outing,” Ellis said. “You can kind of feel where it’s going to be your last guy. And then we made a couple of good pitches. Got to 3-2 and in my head I wanted to throw a slider. We had gone fastball in before. Sevy just stuck a fastball in again. I was like, ‘Man I’ll chunk it and trust him.’ Sure enough, man, got him to pop up to second base, got out of the inning and we end up winning the ballgame.”
Well, he made it sound easy. But his five innings and his 92 pitches were both career highs (just his fifth career major league game) and his manager gave him the chance to get a big out. He was in line to get his second career win and one for and not against the Orioles this time. But the Yankees tied it in the eighth. Still, he appreciated that Hyde let him face LeMahieu in the fifth.
“It was really cool to have a big league manager trust you to go out there,” Ellis said. “It was a 1-0 ballgame, two guys on against the Yankees, one of the best hitters in baseball up. For me, for a pitcher, it’s nice when the manager puts confidence in you out there and you kind of know he’s got confidence in you. You make that pitch and try to make both of you guys look good.”
Ellis did that also. Maybe after 700 minor league innings and six previous organizations, he will be an overnight success in Baltimore.
The Orioles were 1-18 in their previous 19 games within the AL East until Saturday’s win.
Baltimore pitchers have allowed just four earned runs and nine hits in 19 innings in this series.
The Orioles have played three straight one-run games, going 1-2, and five of their past seven games have been decided by two runs or less. They are 2-3 in those five.
A couple of final, yet quite impressive notes on Ellis from yesterday: He is the first Orioles starter to throw at least five hitless innings against the Yankees since Hoyt Wilhelm threw a no-hitter on Sept. 20, 1958 at Memorial Stadium. And he is the first opposing starting pitcher to throw at least five hitless innings versus the Yankees since Mike Maddux on Sept. 9, 1995 with Boston at Yankee Stadium.
Cooking with the bat: Low Single-A Delmarva’s Billy Cook had an amazing game as the Shorebirds routed Carolina 21-3 on Saturday. The Shorebirds hit six homers and Cook, this year’s 10th-round pick from Pepperdine, hit three of them. Two were grand slams.
Cook hit his first slam in the fifth inning. He led off the eighth inning with a solo homer and later in the same inning hit his second grand slam. At that point, he had homered in three straight at-bats.
So Cook went 4-for-5 with three homers and nine RBIs. The three homers tied the club record and nine RBIs set one. Delmarva set team records with six homers in the game and in scoring 21 runs. O’s top draft pick Colton Cowser went 3-for-6, hit his first homer for Delmarva and drove in five, but got upstaged by Cook.
Delmarva has scored 66 runs in going 4-1 this week at Carolina. They have scored 152 runs in going 13-4 since they got all of those 2021 draft picks. That is an average of 8.94 runs a game since Aug. 17.