Saturday, July 5, 2008

Filling the Void

The loss of Matt Albers has left a void in the O's bullpen that's becoming more and more evident. With the young birds' rotation is still trying to find it's way, there needs to be an arm (or arms) capable of shutting down the sixth and/or seventh innings in order to get to JJ and The Sherriff at the back end. So with the recent shuffling of the bullpen, let's whittle down the candidates for his replacement. This is excluding the back end (JJ, Sherrill), pitchers in rehab or DL (Randor Bierd, Jamie Walker), and Ryan Bukvich (if he hasn't been DFA'd by the time this post is made).

-Dennis Sarfate - Next to Loewen and Jim Johnson, Sarfate has the best natural arm in this pen. Sarfate hits 95-98 mph with relative ease with his fastball and has an excellent hard slider. However, Sarfate has a history of wildness (34 walks in 37.2 ip) and thus can be susceptible to the big inning.
-Fernando Cabrera - We haven't seen much of Fernando, and there is most likely a reason. Certainly Trembley will look to give him more opportunities, as both of his appearances have been scoreless this season. However, his reputation of wildness preceeds him and its unlikely that he'll settle into the lockdown middle relief this team is seeking.
-Chad Bradford - Safest guy to lock down the seventh. Balls aren't going to leave the yard with Bradford, and he's not going to get psyched out like some of the younger pitchers. Bradford is a stabilizer, which is exactly what you want. However, he's too valuable situationally to have him etched in to a specific inning. Far better to save the submariner for when you need him -- be it in the sixth, seventh, or eighth.
-Adam Loewen - Certainly has all the tools, the competitiveness, and the ability to go multiple innings without tiring. However, Loewen has had a roller coaster season from injury to poor performance. He has the gifts and the competitiveness, but he's not eased in enough to be relied on here and now.
-Lance Cormier - Probably the most deserving pitcher to get the Albers role. Like Albers Cormier is a former starter who has found exponentially more success coming out of the pen. In his past nine appearances he has pitched 15.2 innings and only allowed 3 earned runs, two of which coming at Wrigley when he was thrust into replacing Albers in the first inning. Of those nine appearances, six were of at least two innings.

Right now smart money is on Lance Cormier, who's been one of the many pleasant suprises this year for the Orioles. And get well soon, Matt.

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