Pedro Strop has a 5-2 record with a 2.31 ERA. Brian Matusz is 6-10 with a 5.07 ERA. Which one is currently more valuable for the Orioles?Brian Matusz.For most of the season the idea that Matusz would outperform Strop was absurd. Matusz was sent to the minors midway through the season after being humiliated as a starter. Now, hes an effective left-handed reliever.Strop was a superb eighth-inning man and even filled in as closer when Jim Johnson was ill early in the season. These days, Orioles fans gasp when he comes in the game.Over the last month, Strop was seen his ERA nearly double from 1.20 to 2.31 and hes given up nine of the 16 runs allowed this season.Within five days, Strop had two hideous outings against the Yankees that resulted in blown saves, and on Sunday in Oakland, he allowed two hits and a walk in 15 pitches. Strop forced manager Buck Showalter to get Jim Johnson into the game for an unwanted save.Strops effectiveness allowed the Orioles to trade Matt Lindstrom for a needed left-handed starter, Joe Saunders. With Strop strong, Luis Ayala and Darren ODay complementing him, Lindstrom could be dealt.It will be interested to see what Showalter will do with Strop. Will he use him earlier in the eighth inning? Hes pitched in the seventh several times this season, but never before.Will Showalter use Ayala or ODay as the eighth-inning guy? Or perhaps someone else? The Orioles are carrying 16 pitchers, and generally use about 10 in the pen. Jason Hammel is currently unavailable, so Showalter may have slightly more limited late-inning options.Matusz is one of the more fascinating options in a season full of them. After a horrifying 2011 with a record-setting 10.69 ERA, Matusz made the team as the fifth starter, began the season acceptably before imploding in June. He was sent to Norfolk just before the All-Star break with no assurance of a hasty return. Some of his Triple-A starts were quite strong, but because of the improved performances of his replacements, Matusz stayed in Norfolk longer than he thought he needed to.In mid-August after the bullpens lone left-hander Troy Patton sprained his left ankle, Matusz was hastily converted into a reliever. After a handful of outings, Matusz was back in Baltimore, replacing veteran J.C. Romero, who failed to impress in a short audition.Since his Aug. 24 return, Matusz has thrown 9 13 innings, allowing two runs and three hits. Hes struck out 13 and walked just one, most impressive for a pitcher who had eight starts with three or more walks this year.Pattons recovery has gone slower than expected, and it will be interesting to see if Matusz has supplanted him. With the roster expansion, Zach Phillips and Randy Wolf, who started on Sunday, are on hand as left-handed options, but its Matusz who currently has Showalters confidence.While the Orioles say the right things about Strop and Matusz, its becoming more likely that one will be dealt in the offseason and another will return to the bullpen.Strop will probably have high market value. Hes young, he throws hard and is a positive force in the clubhouse. Its not hard to see another team taking a chance on him as a closer.Johnson has cemented his role as one of baseballs elite closers, and with Ayala a cheap option for next year and ODay not terribly expensive, both of them are likely to be back, with some new friends.Not long ago, Matusz was one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. After Showalters arrival in Aug. 2010, he was dynamic and great things were expected from him. Instead, he was hurt for the first two months of the season and pitched poorly.He seems comfortable and happy in the bullpen, and with the need for a left-hander who can work multiple innings as he did on Sunday, Matusz could be a bullpen mainstay.For now, Showalter is trying Jake Arrieta in the bullpen, too. Its more likely that Arrieta will be back as a rotation candidate next season. The competition will be greater. Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel and Chris Tillman seem to have proven themselves. Zach Britton has shown well at times lately and Miguel Gonzalez has been useful, too. Its unlikely that Joe Saunders will be back unless he accepts a below-market salary, and with Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman not far away, Arrieta will lots to prove.Like Matusz, Arrieta may have to do his proving in the bullpen.
The Orioles have finally found their man.
After entering the Winter Meetings without having yet hired their new manager, a rarity in this era of baseball, the Orioles announced Friday that they had hired Brandon Hyde to fill the role.
Hyde joins the organization after spending half a decade in Chicago under Joe Maddon, and many years prior with the Marlins. He has a long background in player development, something that was important to new Orioles GM Mike Elias, which makes sense considering the state of the organization and their upcoming rebuilding process.
Hyde is 45, so he’ll have the opportunity to stick in Baltimore for a long time if he finds success, however, Elias defines it, in the next few seasons. Many times, the manager leading a team as it embarks on an organizational rebuild is not the same one who leads them back into contention, but the Orioles front office will certainly hope Hyde is up to both tasks.
“After conducting an intensive search, I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” said Mike Elias, Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager, in a statement released Friday.
“Brandon’s deep background in player development and Major League coaching, most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a World Champion, has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process. I look forward to introducing him to our fans next week and to working together with him to build the next great Orioles team.”
Elias was thought to have preferred someone with Major League experience, so as to avoid saddling an up-and-coming manager with multiple 90-plus loss seasons inevitably on the horizon in Baltimore. Hyde technically has experience coaching in the big leagues, though it comes in the form of a single game. The Marlins lost his one game as acting manager 2-1 to the Rays, and Jack McKeon was named interim manager the next day.
Maddon has developed a reputation as a stellar communicator and somebody open to analytics, and it stands to reason that Hyde would follow a similar style of leadership, especially considering how critical those traits are in the eyes of Elias.
Hyde replaces Buck Showalter, a beloved figure in Baltimore after his 8 ½ seasons at the helm brought winning baseball back to a city desperate for relevancy. Showalter’s contract was not renewed at the end of this past season, an understandable decision given his age and how long it will be until the franchise is ready to compete again.
Reports swirled about Hyde being named the 20th manager in franchise history as early as Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, though Elias and the front office were quick to emphasize that nothing was official at the time. In the end, Hyde does end up accepting the job, and he’ll be introduced at a press conference Monday.
Nationals bench coach Chip Hale was, along with Hyde, one of six finalists who interviewed for the position, so the Nats won’t be losing a valuable piece of their staff.
The Orioles are in the honeymoon phase of the rebuild, where hope springs eternal and the losses to come haven’t set in yet. Hyde checks all the boxes for what Elias was looking for, and despite his relative inexperience, he’s someone who should excite, if not necessarily inspire, the fanbase in Charm City.
Orioles fans won’t have many exciting acquisitions to cheer on in the near future, but they may have just made one of their most impactful. The O’s finally have their GM-Manager combination set for the foreseeable future, and they’ll hope to experience as much success and more as the previous regime.
Orioles new general manager Mike Elias is a busy man out in Las Vegas. Not only is he looking to add much needed talent to Baltimore's roster but he is also searching for a new manager. Elias interviewed six candidates, including Nationals bench coach Chip Hale, for the vacancy. On Monday, Elias said they were “pretty far along in the process.”
Then the reports surfaced on Tuesday that the Orioles had found their man.
For a second straight year, Joe Maddon's bench coach has landed a managerial job (Davey Martinez).
But, in the words of College Gameday's Lee Corso "Not so fast my friend!"
Elias said no decision made on manager, no offer made and probably no hire here. Called report on Hyde, shown on TV in suite, “premature” #orioles— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) December 12, 2018
Does that mean Hyde is not the manager? Not necessarily. It likely means Elias wants the news to come out on his terms.
Asked what’s the value of keeping search close to the vest, Elias replied, “I don’t see any value in not keeping it close to the vest.” #orioles— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) December 12, 2018