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Bullpen Struggles and Possible Changes


EddeeEddee

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Clearly the Oriole bullpen is struggling more than earlier in the season.  At one point the bullpen was considered this team's strength, though now it may be the O's biggest vulnerability.

Perhaps the O's should use than one closer for the rest of the season.  For whatever reason Bautista is not as consistent as he was earlier on -- and even earlier on he could be shaky on occasion.  Maybe when Wells returns he can close some -- or when Givens and Means return they can close some (though that's far from a given -- no pun intended).  Cano can close sometimes too, though I think Hyde and most everyone prefers him in the 8th inning or sometimes earlier than the 8th.

Fujinami?  I think no way he closes.  In fact, I'm wondering if Fujinami gets cut at some point when the other pitchers -- mainly Wells, Means and Givens but others too -- return from the IL and the minors.  Fujinami looked quite promising earlier on but recently he's shown he's the scariest pitcher on the team -- and not in a good way.  

Most of us wanted Elias to do more to bring another strong reliever on the team.  I think Elias goofed by not getting a David Robertson or some other strong closer.  But now that that's in the past, what can be -- or should be -- done to strengthen the bullpen?  Is it just a matter of waiting for the guys I mentioned above already to come back from the IL or the minors?  Or can other changes be made?  

By the way if the moderators think this thread should be combined with an existing bullpen thread, then go for it.  Looking forward to other's thoughts.

 

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I am on the boat that Elias messed up for not getting a veteran closer. But at the time, Bautista was still going strong. In hindsight, I think a "regression to the average" was to be expected for both Bautista and Cano. They are still young and unproven quantities. A team who has aspirations to go deep in the playoffs needs a proven closer. Bautista would have been able to slide down to setup, and Cano to the seventh inning, where both might be more effective.

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I'm not worried about Bautista yet. My confidence level has gone from "Supreme Confidence/He's Invincible" to "Regular Confidence/Solid" but he is by far the best option we have. He would need to have a couple more bad games at least before I thinking about replacing him or sharing his role. 

Remember in Game 1 his undoing included a bloop single and the drop by Mateo. He labored today but got the job done. 

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I'm not sure if there are any sure-fire solutions available. It sounds dumb and simple, but I just hope Cano somehow figures out how to get the bite back he had before the all star game. And I hope the Mountain has a command hot streak in come playoff time. He has seemed to lose it for stretches this season and the last week he definitely doesn't have it.

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7 minutes ago, Uli2001 said:

I am on the boat that Elias messed up for not getting a veteran closer. But at the time, Bautista was still going strong. In hindsight, I think a "regression to the average" was to be expected for both Bautista and Cano. They are still young and unproven quantities. A team who has aspirations to go deep in the playoffs needs a proven closer. Bautista would have been able to slide down to setup, and Cano to the seventh inning, where both might be more effective.

By the way, to be clear, when I mentioned David Robertson or a similar pitcher in the OP, I did not mean a pitcher to replace Bautista.  Rather someone to help nail down the 7th or 8th innings and occasionally fill in for Bautista. 

But you may be right that the O's should have targeted a closer before the deadline and not just another setup man.  As great as Bautista can be it does seem he's not as durable as many closers in the league.  But maybe Wells, Givens or Means can help fill in?  Not a conventional idea but the O's may need to experiment more in the bullpen.

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2 minutes ago, EddeeEddee said:

But you may be right that the O's should have targeted a closer before the deadline and not just another setup man.  As great as Bautista can be it does seem he's not as durable as many closers in the league.  But maybe Wells, Givens or Means can help fill in?  Not a conventional idea but the O's may need to experiment more in the bullpen.

God no. 

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Bautista had been lights out until this week. But prior to the Astros series he had only pitched three times in two weeks.  I understand that he needed rest, but sometimes it seems like those long layoffs adversely affect a guy’s command.  Especially guys who are used to pitching three or four times a week.

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Seeing what other teams had to give up to acquire bullpen arms that would have really bolstered this bullpen, as well as noting the current state of the pen, validates the complaints that not enough was done for a 1st place team.

I'm a BIG Elias fan, yet no one is infallible.   I recognize that we cannot know what constraints John Angelos has put on him.  It's possible that he was not allowed to add to the payroll.   Bautista has been crazy good and Coulombe has been very good as well.  Cano was a major surprise earlier in the season but has come back to earth and may not be what we'd prefer as an 8th inning guy.  Baker and Baumann have been okay.   But, having Perez, Webb, and Fujinami pitching down the stretch is highly worrisome, to say the least.  

Again, love Elias, love what we've accomplished thus far, love Bautista as our closer, but not getting better arms for the pen may eventually be seen as the reason our season ends before we want it to.  I think that's a fair concern, yet I truly hope to be proven wrong. 

Edited by Greg Pappas
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3 minutes ago, bpilktree said:

Is the bullpen really struggling?  It had a tough series ( mostly Bautista) for sure but they hadn’t given up a run in the month of August coming into Tuesday.  

Did Fujunami not walk 3 batters in yesterday's game?  Did he not blow a game last week (or the week before -- I think it was against the Phillies but can't remember).  And now Coulombe is out for awhile.  Cano is not as consistent as he was before.  

You may be right that Bautista just faced a very tough team.  Maybe he's not struggling per se, but I would argue he is a bit.  However, I will admit I have followed the games but haven't really watched them on TV lately.

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FWIW

re: Givens - In a Roch post yesterday:

Quote

Mychal Givens remains on his rehab assignment with Norfolk as he recovers from a right shoulder injury.

“I think he’s throwing again,” Hyde said. “Threw a few days ago. He’s going to throw one more time. We’re just monitoring every outing.”

re: Tate - from 8/3

Quote

Dillon Tate, who was shut down with a right elbow flexor strain in March 2023, and suffered an unrelated stress reaction in his elbow in May. Between June 15-21, Tate has made three rehab appearances for Triple-A Norfolk, two good and one bad. The bad one involved four walks. Mike Elias says Tate might be big league-ready in September, potentially.

re: John Means... he is starting tonight for Baysox.

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5 minutes ago, bpilktree said:

Is the bullpen really struggling?  It had a tough series ( mostly Bautista) for sure but they hadn’t given up a run in the month of August coming into Tuesday.  

Just looked it up since the Saturday night Yankee game (8 games) the bullpen had pitched 25 innings and gave up 1 earned run.  The bullpen isn’t going to be as good as that stretch but not gonna be as bad as last 3 either.

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16 minutes ago, Uli2001 said:

I am on the boat that Elias messed up for not getting a veteran closer. But at the time, Bautista was still going strong. In hindsight, I think a "regression to the average" was to be expected for both Bautista and Cano. They are still young and unproven quantities. A team who has aspirations to go deep in the playoffs needs a proven closer. Bautista would have been able to slide down to setup, and Cano to the seventh inning, where both might be more effective.

Wait a second. So Bautista doesn't give up a run for like a month and a half and two poor outings means he should be replaced? And/or Elias should have had the foresight to have a veteran replacement in the wings?

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4 minutes ago, EdwinRip said:

Bautista was in the conversation for the CY Young before this series.  He could still be considered the best closer in baseball.  Talk about a hot take.

You say he was in the CY conversation -- but is he still?  I doubt he ever really was, except among O's fans, and you could argue there are 2 or 3 closers that are better -- Josh Hader being one of them (though he's in the National League).

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