2009 In Review: Right Handed Relievers

Brian Bass: 5-3, 4.90 ERA, 86.33 IP, 11 HR, 44 BB, 54 K, 1.74 WHIP, 5.63 K/9

Bass had a very inconsistent year pitching as the long man/mop up guy. He started off terribly (6.35 ERA over 17 IP in April) and the only reason he probably stayed on the team was it was so early on and there wasn’t really anybody to replace him with. But he turned it around and was very effective in May and June (1.65 and 3.07 ERAs respectively). Unfortunately he was back to being largely ineffective over the last three months (5.56, 7.64, 4.82 ERAs).

2010 Prognosis: I suspect Bass will be a 40 man casualty at some point in the offseason. We have a roster crunch with minor leaguers that need to be added to the 40 man roster and we have other pitchers that are better than Bass, or at least similar. If he doesn’t get released then he’ll compete for one of the last spots in the bullpen, but if he does I’m sure he’ll land on his feet somewhere.

Danys Baez: 4-6, 4.02 ERA, 71.67 IP, 8 HR, 22 BB, 40 K, 1.13 WHIP, 5.02 K/9

The Orioles didn’t expect much from Baez in 2009 after he didn’t pitch at all in 2008 coming off an arm injury. He couldn’t be used in back to back games for most of the year but he was a pleasant surprise. He was pretty consistent throughout the year, keeping his ERA anywhere from 3.00 to 4.50. He didn’t strike out as many batters as he used to, but he did a good job of getting ground balls and staying away from the homerun ball. He pitched alot of innings for someone with innings restrictions and it being his first year back from injury.

2010 Prognosis: Baez will be a free agent and I expect him to sign with another team in the offseason. He should be able to get a decent deal from somebody, but I don’t think it’ll be the Orioles. The O’s have alot of younger, cheaper options at this point.

Jim Johnson: 4-6, 4.11 ERA, 10 SV, 70 IP, 8 HR, 23 BB, 49 K, 1.37 WHIP, 6.30 K/9

Johnson was excellent in 2008 pitching out of middle/late inning relief and he was expected to continue that as the set up man in 2009. He was successful as the set up man, but he rarely seemed to have a clean inning. When George Sherrill was traded, Johnson moved into the closers role and started struggling. He was 10/16 in save opportunities and had a 6.65 ERA as the closer. He gave up eight homeruns in 2009 after only giving up one in 2008. It didn’t seem like he was getting the same sink on his fastball as the year before. Despite a decent stat line overall, it was a bit of a disappointing year for Johnson.

2010 Prognosis: I expect Johnson to be slotted back into the set up role and get back to what he was doing in the first half of 2009. I don’t know if he was pressing too much or what, but the closers role didn’t seem to fit him. Hes going to be an important part of our bullpen going forward.

Matt Albers: 3-6, 5.51 ERA, 67 IP, 3 HR, 36 BB, 49 K, 1.73 WHIP, 6.58 K/9

Albers was coming off a labrum injury, when he elected not to get surgery to repair in 2008. He had an inconsistent season to say the least. He started off badly in April (7.71 ERA) and was demoted to AAA Norfolk. He got himself righted and came back pitching great. (2.70 ERA in May, 1.15 in June, 3.68 in July) He was demoted again after a terrible start to August (24.00 ERA) and came back when the rosters expanded in September (5.40 ERA).

2010 Prognosis: Albers will most likely get a shot in spring training to show which guy from 2009 is the real version of him. As usual, I’m sure its somewhere in the middle. But if he can pitch like he did from May to July he would be a very valuable guy to have pitching the 6th and/or 7th innings. Theres also a chance he doesn’t make the team out of spring training.

Chris Ray: 0-4, 7.27 ERA, 43.33 IP, 8 HR, 23 BB, 39 K, 1.98 WHIP, 8.10 K/9

Ray was another pitcher coming off an arm injury. Although his season was pretty consistent… he pitched bad all year. Ok, he had one good month (2.12 ERA in August) after being demoted for most of July. He just seemed way too hittable. Everything he throws is hard and he just must not have had his usual movement on his fastball and not enough action on his slider. Its not unusual for pitchers to struggle in their first year removed from Tommy John surgery. He still showed the ability to strike out batters.

2010 Prognosis: Ray is in a similar situation as Matt Albers coming into spring training. He has to use the spring to prove that he can still be the pitcher from 2006 and early 2007. Its crazy to think, but he could be a roster casualty if the Orioles don’t think he can bounce back.

Cla Meredith: 0-0, 3.77 ERA, 28.67 IP, 3 HR, 12 BB, 16 K, 1.33 WHIP, 5.02 K/9

The Orioles traded for Meredith in July from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Oscar Salazar. It was a good trade for the Orioles. Salazar most likely won’t be anything more than a utility guy/pinch hitter, while Meredith could make a home in the bullpen for the Orioles. He struggled a bit in August after being traded (6.60 ERA), but was great in the last month of the season (0.90 ERA). Hes a ground ball pitcher who has had alot of success in the past. Hes not old, but he struggled a bit over the last couple seasons.

2010 Prognosis: Meredith should be a member of the Orioles bullpen throughout all of 2010 barring injury. He can pitch at any point in a game, he can pitch for multiple innings, and he can work in back to back to back games thanks to his easy almost underarm delivery.

Dennis Sarfate: 0-1, 5.09 ERA, 23 IP, 3 HR, 14 BB, 20 K, 1.52 WHIP, 7.83 K/9

Sarfate injured himself early in the season and was shut down for a solid three months before going on a long rehab stint and returning to the Orioles in September. He didn’t pitch good before he went on the DL (6.39 ERA over 12.67 innings) and wasn’t doing great for the first part of September either, but he did start to turn it around over the last couple weeks. His control is his biggest issue and it took him a while to get his velocity back up after coming back.

2010 Prognosis: Theres a very good chance Sarfate is released in the offseason, but I’d like to at least keep him around for spring training. He has some electric stuff when healthy and I think theres still some potential for him to be a good reliever. If he doesn’t show anything in the spring, then I would cut him loose.

Kam Mickolio: 0-2, 2.63 ERA, 13.67 IP, 0 HR, 7 BB, 14 K, 1.32 WHIP, 9.22 K/9

Mickolio had a very good 2009 campaign. In AAA Norfolk he pitched to a 3.50 ERA over 43.2 innings and had a 52/16 strikeout to walk ratio. Hitters only batted .203 against the tall right hander. When he was called up to the Orioles he showed flashes of brilliance with potential closer stuff. He had to be shut down a few weeks early due to shoulder fatigue, but it shouldn’t be of concern. I think it was more a matter of “better safe than sorry” for the promising pitcher.

2010 Prognosis: I think Mickolio will make the bullpen out of spring training. He could potentially take over the closers role as soon as some point in 2010, but he should be a solid late inning reliever regardless. With his height, hes pretty much right on you when the ball comes out of his hand. A very nice slider complements his mid to late 90’s heat.

Bob McCrory: 0-0, 17.19 ERA, 7.33 IP, 3 HR, 10 BB, 4 K, 3.68 WHIP, 4.91 K/9

McCrory has proven over the last two seasons that hes a AAAA player. Decent success in AAA (3.88 ERA over 62.2 innings) just doesn’t correlate to big league success for him. I don’t know if its nerves or what, but he has almost no control over his pitches when hes with the Orioles. He throws hard, but its a straight fastball which doesn’t work in the majors.

2010 Prognosis: He won’t see any time pitching for the Orioles. Hes already been removed from the 40 man roster. He’ll either pitch for AAA Norfolk or another organization in 2010.

Chris Lambert: 0-0, 4.76 ERA, 5.67 IP, 2 HR, BB, 7 K, 1.59 WHIP, 11.11 K/9

The Orioles claimed Lambert off waivers from the Detroit Tigers. Hes had success as a starter for AAA Toledo over the last two seasons (12-8, 3.50 ERA in 2008, 6-7, 3.55 ERA in 2009), but struggled in his three starts with AAA Norfolk (1-2, 6.94 ERA). He came up when the rosters expanded and pitched out of relief for the Orioles. He showed some promise and he could be an interesting guy to watch in spring training.

2010 Prognosis: Its most likely that Lambert starts 2010 in AAA Norfolk’s rotation, but depending on what happens he could make the bullpen out of spring training. He should see time in the majors as an injury replacement, either in the bullpen or the rotation.

Radhames Liz: 0-0, 67.67 ERA, 1.33 IP, HR, 2 BB, K, 7.52 WHIP, 6.77 K/9

Liz made one appearance for the Orioles in 2009 and got lit up. He was sent back down to the minors immediately following the game. Liz has fallen completely off the map after getting alot of major league innings in 2008. He pitched to a 5.68 ERA over 17 appearances (including eight starts) for AAA Norfolk and was eventually demoted to AA Bowie, where he pitched to a 2.63 ERA over eight starts.

2010 Prognosis: Liz has turned into an organizational filler kind of pitcher and will most likely pitch wherever the O’s need him in 2010. He could start anywhere from AAA Norfolk’s rotation to AA Bowie’s bullpen.

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