Projecting the Bullpen

Josh Rupe tossed another scoreless two innings this afternoon and hasn’t allowed an earned run in 13 2/3 innings this spring.

Manager Buck Showalter also raved about Jason Berken, saying that the right-hander looked as crisp on Saturday as he’s seen him all spring. Berken also tossed two scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 3.46 in the process. Both Rupe and Berken are guys who can give the Orioles multiple innings and Showalter said they aren’t necessarily in direct competition with each other. There’s a scenario where they could both make the team, a pretty likely one in my opinion.

Let’s take a look at how the O’s pen is shaping up. Assuming Koji Uehara stays healthy, here’s how it could shake out. This is based on speculation, performance and what’s been said around camp. It also has the Orioles going with a seven-man bullpen and an extra position player.  There’s a chance they go with an eight-man ‘pen and 13 position players, the team hasn’t officially decided one way or another yet.

Bullpen locks:

RHP KEVIN GREGG

LHP MICHAEL GONZALEZ

RHP KOJI UEHARA

RHIP JIM JOHNSON

Looking likely:

RHP JOSH RUPE

RHP JASON BERKEN

RHP JEREMY ACCARDO.

*I realize this only has one lefty in the ‘pen in Michael Gonzalez and I could see a scenario where LHP Clay Rapada makes the team, although I think it’s less likely that Mark Hendrickson breaks camp.

If Uehara starts the season on the DL, or if the O’s go with an extra reliever, Rapada would be the guy that goes on this list.  There’s also though to having Berken start the season in Triple-A Norfolk (he has an option remaining) but he’s pitched well as of late.

Rupe has also pitched himself into a spot on the team.

“Fortunately, I’ve seen him do this before,” said Showalter, who had Rupe in Texas.  “He’s just trusting [Matt] Wieters. Put it down and let’s go. When a guy has that many quality pitches in his arsenal, sometimes you can have too many. He threw, I think, six straight sinkers to [Evan]Longoria. That’s Matt as much as it is Rupe. Pretty good. Let’s go.Why do you want to mess with anything else.

He’s got a quality arm. Some time like that, a 28-year-old kind of figures it out. You can’t overthink it. Just trust your pitch quality. He knows it too. It’s funny. He was sitting there after he came in from the inning, three up and three down, the four pitches to Longoria. He was saying, ‘I was thinking about curveball there.’ Matt’s just sitting there and he kind of looks at me and says, ‘Just throw the ball.’ We’ll see if it carries over to the season if he makes the club.”

Asked about Berken’s chances to make the club, Showalter said: “You guys see the numbers. The competition is there. He brings some length and a guy that is flexible. Rupe’s got some length, too. I don’t think it’s a competition between both of them. I think both of them could make it.”

4 Comments

I concur with your bullpen projection. I think Rapada will be part of an 8 man bullpen to start the season. What will happen to Riske? He is starting to pitch well. Do you think another team will pick him up?

I agree, Riske has looked well and Showalter has singled him out a few times. I think if he doesn’t break camp with the O’s he definitely has a shot at a ML job elsewhere. Great guy as well.

Hey Britt, any news on Rick Vandenhurk? Haven’t heard much after his deceptional performance against NYY and now it seems he’s completely off the radar.

He’s out of options and at this point is a longshot to break camp with the team. Should he clear waivers, he’d start the season with Triple-A Norfolk. He’s done a lot of Minor League innings recently.

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