Givens saw only one save opportunity through his first eight outings of the year but has been more involved in the ninth inning since late April. He has a 32.4% strikeout rate -- the highest since his rookie season -- and has dramatically increased his groundball rate to 54.8%, up from his career rate of 39.4%. Givens certainly remains the Orioles' top option to close things out, but he will occasionally be called upon to put out fires earlier in games, and it seems like an inevitability that he will be flipped to a contender before the trade deadline.
Castro has some intrigue given the raw tools. The key word there is "raw." Castro regularly touches mid-to-high 90s with his four-seamer, but that hasn't translated to many Ks whatsoever in the majors (16.2 K%). Unfortunately, the 24-year-old continues to illustrate control issues with a 10.0 BB%. He has a 7.31 ERA and 1.88 WHIP since earning a save in his second outing of the year.
Fry has proven to be a solid middle reliever for Baltimore over the past two seasons with a 3.33 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 48:20 K:BB, but nothing really jumps off the page for him as a ninth-inning option besides the team's lack of pitching depth.
Bleier missed time due to injury in the spring, and his is very much a middle-reliever profile. A 31-year-old journeyman lefty, Bleier owns an 11.0 K% in parts of three big-league seasons. He doesn't even crack 90 mph on the radar gun, but Bleier gets groundballs in bunches (63.3%) and is stingy with the free passes (4.3 BB%). He has thrown only 4.1 innings this season due to injury.
The wild card here is Hunter Harvey, who once again dealt with injuries last year, tossing 32.1 innings at Double-A after totaling 18.2 innings in 2017 and 12.2 innings in 2016. Baltimore really should end the starting experiment and see what Harvey can do in relief. If that move is made and Harvey finds his way up to the big leagues in 2019, he would immediately become one of the more intriguing arms in the Orioles' bullpen, as he can throw in the mid-90s with movement and spin a quality curveball.
Since his last successful save conversion, Brasier has been shaky. He's given up four earned runs on five hits in his last two appearances (May 2 and 7), spanning one inning. It seemed manager Alex Cora preferred to keep Barnes in a more flexible, high-leverage role -- the "relief ace" as opposed to being boxed into the ninth -- but Brasier's recent struggles have necessitated Barnes' presence in save situations.
Barnes brings the ever-enticing combination of strikeouts (36.2 K% last season) and groundballs (53.0%). The right-hander averages 96 mph with his fastball and spins a good curveball.
Brasier was always an intriguing internal candidate. He didn't miss as many bats as Barnes in 2018 -- for the season, Brasier had a 23.4 K% (career 22.6%). He also lacks the groundballs (40.2%), but the right-hander throws hard (96.9 mph average fastball last season) and he's much stingier with the walks than Barnes.
A reunion with Craig Kimbrel later in the year is still possible. However, Kimbrel was shaky in the playoffs, issuing eight walks and giving up seven runs in 10.2 postseason innings, and there are some yellow flags in the regular-season numbers as well.
Thornburg struggled last year in his first season back from thoracic outlet surgery, posting a 5.63 ERA, 1.58 WHIP and 2.25 HR/9. The track record for players returning from that procedure, while limited, is pretty troubling (Tyson Ross and Matt Harvey are the most recent cautionary tales).
Interestingly, it's been a different story in 2019 as he has a staggeringly-low 10.8% groundball rate and a 40.5% line-drive rate against, though his hard-hit rate (32.4%) is only slightly higher than his career average. Hand has been one of the best closers in the league regardless this season, going 11-for-11 in save chances with a 1.53 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and career-high 36.8 K%.
Cimber, who was traded to Cleveland in the same deal as Hand, is presumably next in line. He had pretty dramatic lefty/righty splits last season (.263 wOBA vs. RHP, .420 wOBA vs. LHP), but he has significantly improved those numbers in 2019 (.193 wOBA vs. RHP, .279 wOBA vs. LHP). Cimber has never had even an 8.0 K/9 as a professional, but he pounds the strike zone and continues to induce groundballs at a high rate (59.6%).
Salazar continues to deal with shoulder trouble and hasn't seen game action since 2017. The right-hander suffered a setback while throwing a bullpen session in early May. If he gets healthy and moves to the bullpen, Salazar would stand a good chance to push for a back-end role. The last we saw of Salazar in 2017, he was throwing 95 mph as (primarily) a starter and inducing swinging strikes at a robust 16.4% clip.
Colome has made a solid first impression in Chicago with a 2.12 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and eight successful save conversions in as many chances so far. He has increased his strikeout rate (27.4%) but also has a .135 BABIP, which will correct quickly if Colome continues to allow hard contact at a 46.2% clip.
Herrera began the season as a lights-out setup man, but has struggled of late with 10 runs allowed and a 10:6 K:BB over his last nine innings. The veteran right-hander also missed some time due to back stiffness. Herrera is throwing fewer fastballs and sliders in favor of a cutter (21% usage), while his fastball velocity has dropped to 95.8 mph after sitting north of 96 mph in every prior year of his career.
Fry impressed in his first full season in the majors, posting a healthy 32.7 K% using a rare (for a reliever) four-pitch mix -- fastball, slider, curveball, changeup. He allowed seven runs over his first five outings of 2019, but has settled in with a 1.69 ERA and 18:5 K:BB in his last 13 appearances.
Any dream of Nate Jones as a future closer is probably over after another lost season. It's easy to see the talent when he's on the field, but Jones battled an arm injury throughout most of last summer and is set to miss the rest of the 2019 season after undergoing forearm surgery.
The skills weren't exactly befitting of a closer last season, but in 2019 Greene is putting up career bests essentially across the board. He has a 31.4 K%, 5.4 BB% and a hard-contact rate of 30.2% despite his fastball velocity dropping from 94.3 mph to 93.0. If Greene carries this level of success into midseason it will become increasingly likely he won't remain with the Tigers past the trade deadline.
Jimenez has long been thought of as the closer-in-waiting in Detroit. He slipped up late in the 2018 campaign after a heavy workload in the first half, but the overall numbers were still excellent. The right-hander struck batters out at a 29.2% clip with a combination of mid-90s fastballs, mid-80s sliders and high-80s changeups. So far this season Jimenez increased the strikeout rate to 35.1%, but has also seen a jump in his HR/9 allowed (2.08) and walk rate (10.8 %), both of which would the worst marks of his three-year career.
Farmer's velocity was up significantly overall last year and is up slightly again this season, helping him increase his strikeout rate from 18.5% to 29.0% in 2019. He's also trimmed his walk rate to 8.7% and has seen a drastic improvement in his groundball rate from 40.4% to 58.5% this season.
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