Today in the Sun, O’s skipper Sam Perlozzo said, "Hayden might fit in," if the Orioles are short a reliever. Let’s just hope the only chance of that happening is if every reliever in camp suddenly came down with the bubonic plague, because Penn needs to be starting somewhere, not trying to find a few innings in an unfamiliar role in the big leagues.
Even with Todd Williams most likely starting the season on the DL minus a miraculous recovery over the next two weeks, the Orioles have plenty of qualified candidates to fill out the bullpen without having to put their top, almost big league ready starting pitcher out there. Let’s take a quick look at the bullpen.
Chris Ray is going to be the closer and with a 1.93 ERA so far this spring, there’s no reason to doubt he’s safe. Latroy Hawkins will be the number one set up guy and closer if Ray should falter. Tim Byrdak with his perfect spring has pretty much nailed down the left-handed relief specialist at the very least.
Looking real good
Sendy Rleal looks like a guy who the Orioles are not going to be able to send back down, especially with Williams hurting. With a 1.29 ERA and seven K’s to one walk in eight innings pitched, Rleal is showing why he probably should have gotten a call late last season, even if his knee (which was scoped this offseason) was hurting him a bit. Eric DuBose most likely has the long reliever role locked up.
Candidates for the last two spots
John Halama has pitched pretty good and considering he would be the third lefty in the pen, he’s probably got a pretty good chance. He also can be stretched out as a long guy or spot starter like DuBose. Jim Brower hasn’t had a great spring, but he was with Mazzone last year and if Mazzone recommended him to be signed, that has to be a reason to give him a chance. Eddy Rodriguez has pitched real well this spring and could be in contention, but the O’s might want him to pitch regularly at Ottawa instead of being the third right-handed setup guy. Andy Mitchell is the submariner who is most like Williams in that he gets a lot of groundballs. But he’s still inconsistent and when he not getting the good sink, he suddenly becomes batting practice. And the dark horse is still Winston Abreu and his mid-90’s fastball. He was bombed in one of his appearances but he has struck out nine in seven and a third innings.
That’s five candidates for two spots, so I think it’s safe to send Penn to start the year in Ottawa.
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Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.