On the Orioles closing situation
It’s no secret that nothing has been going the Orioles way lately, including the late innings.
Orioles closer Kevin Gregg, who surrendered a game-tying homer to Jorge Posada in Thursday’s loss, continued to struggle on Monday. Gregg allowed two runs to score in the top of the ninth, laboring through a 34-pitch inning in which he was charged with two hits, two walks and a wild pitch.
“I’m just trying to be too perfect when I’m out there,” said Gregg who did not pitch in this weekend’s Cleveland series.
“I’ve only pitched once coming into the last week, so you lose feel when you get out there. It’s a delicate balance obviously, to not be overused, and to be underused kind of. It’s an unfortunate situation we’re in where we’re not playing real well right now and it’s tough to keep the feel.”
Gregg said the same type of thing on Thursday, and manager Buck Showalter echoed that sentiment again following Monday’s loss.
“It’s probably as much our fault as his,” Showalter said of Gregg. “There just haven’t been that many opportunities. He needed to pitch and [Jim Johnson] had been up yesterday and gotten hot. We knew going into the game tonight that Kevin needed to pitch. And we like him out there. He’s pitched pretty effectively for the most part this year, and tonight he struggled a little bit with his command somewhat.”
In fairness to Gregg, he has appeared very sporadically so far this season. In Gregg’s five outings, two have been in save situations and he has never appeared back-to-back. He’s never pitched more than once a series, appearing in games April 2, 6, 10, 14 and 18. he has one save and one blown save.
It’s early and April stats are always overblown. Still, Gregg –who pitched to a 9.82 ERA this spring — needs to get back on track. He is well known for tightrope acts in the late innings, and it will be interesting how long of a leash he has.
As for Koji Uehara, the Orioles can’t use him on back-to-back days. The team has to be careful that they don’t overextend Koji and wind up with him on the DL. Gregg was signed to be the team’s closer and he came here because Koji is not dependable enough to be relied on through an entire 162-game season. Maybe he will be able to go consecutive games soon. Maybe he will start to tell Showalter he can handle it. But until that starts to happen consistently, the Orioles will hand the ball to Gregg more often than not.