Birdland’s “Three-Headed Monster” out of the bullpen

The Baltimore Orioles have a history of strong and rich pitching. From the likes of Mike Cuellar to Jim Palmer to Mike Mussina, there have been starters that are synonymous when you talk of Orioles’ pitching.

Of course, there has been a fair share of relievers as well. From Tippy Martinez to Gregg Olson to Zack Britton, there have been some strong names tied to the O’s bullpen over the years. 

One thing that is coming together over the last couple of seasons in Baltimore is the strength of the bullpen. That’s mainly due to mid-level starting pitching but also due to strong relievers grabbing the proverbial bull by the horns.  

Bursting onto the scene last year, Félix Bautista and Dillon Tate would form a back-end tandem that would intimidate the strongest of lineups. The duo would combine to convert 20 of 23 saves and give the Orioles a duo that they could alternate to lock down games. 

In Tate, who is currently on a rehab assignment, the Orioles have a veteran leader who relies on a sinker he threw 50% of the time last season. That sinker was estimated to save 16.9 runs alone for Tate. 

Add in a changeup that he threw 23.7% of the time last season, and it forms a strong one-two punch. The two pitches are separated by 10.3 mph, making it a versatile arsenal that also includes a slider and a two-seam fastball.  

Of course, the second piece to that duo was Bautista. “The Mountain” makes for a Herculean site on a mound. Possessing a fastball that can hit up to 102 mph, the shutdown closer is exciting Birdland in many ways. 

When Omar’s Whistle blares over the intercom, the ninth inning becomes electric at Camden Yards. This bohemian man strolls to the mound in a way that makes “Enter the Sandman” a sure-fire way of knowing the game is over.  

One of the breakthroughs for Bautista last year was the effect of his battery mate, Adley Rutschman. Before Rutschman arrived last season, Bautista was strong with a 2.17 ERA and .217 BAA, but he began to develop into a more dominant pitcher under Rutschman. 

Once Rutschman arrived, as he helped to transform the rest of the team as well, Bautista took a step forward, pitching to a 1.82 ERA and a .133 BAA. With a full season of Rutschman, Bautista will only get stronger and reach heightened levels. 

Of course, with Tate, who has yet to pitch for the Orioles this season, and Bautista, the Orioles found a back end lock down tandem. However, the baseball Gods have a way of shining down at the right time. 

In the Jorge López trade with the Twins last season, one of the players the Orioles acquired was right-hander Yennier Canó. In his first taste with the Birds, Canó pitched to an 11.59 ERA in 18 innings and gave up 23 earned runs with a 21:16 strikeout to walk rate.

As outlined by our own Jason Benowitz, Canó tweaked some mechanics and fundamentals, redeveloped himself and turned into someone completely different.  

Canó has a heavy sinker that only five other pitchers have more negative vertical movement. Because of this, Canó has a 43.7% swinging strike rate, which ranks seventh in the majors.  

Canó also has a deadly changeup he uses to help set up his sinker. This pitch has a 45% K/rate and drops 5.3″ more than the average changeup. That pitch also tails an extra 2.5″.

The addition of Canó has helped alleviate the absence of Tate, but it also has set up the Orioles to have a back end of Canó, Tate and Bautista that can be deployed in any order to close down any game for the Birds. 

Welcome to Birdland. Teams will not leave without having to face the “Three-Headed Monster.”

What do you think of the O’s “Three-Headed Monster” out of the bullpen? Let us know in the comments below! Make sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook, Twitter and TikTok, and use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content!

Like Stephen’s content? Follow him on Twitter – @SRJHeckman

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