Can the Orioles' relief continue to go long?


Can the Orioles' relief continue to go long?

In at least one respect, the Orioles are back where they started the season. They have no true long reliever.On Sunday, Luis Ayala ran into trouble when he pitched a third inning. They probably dont have a pitcher in the bullpen who can throw three innings.Troy Patton, who came to the major leagues as a starter, probably has the potential to go long, but most are effective as a one-inning relievers.Of course, if the starters pitch at least six innings consistently, a long reliever really isnt necessary.For the first month of the season, there wasnt one. After the 17-inning game in Boston drained the bullpen, the Orioles called for Stu Pomeranz. He was up for six days and then later in May came back, but was quickly injured.Pomeranz suffered an oblique muscle injury, and was put on the 60-day disabled list. He was nearing a rehab assignment last week when he suffered a setback and was given a cortisone injection.Manager Buck Showalter was hoping hed be an option next week when his DL stint was up, but he wont be ready.Dana Eveland spent two months with the club, started twice and was the true long reliever for most of his team. He wasnt terribly effective and had a 4.73 ERA.In order to make room for Miguel Socolovich, Eveland was designated for assignment on July 14, passed through waivers and was outrighted to Norfolk.Jason Berken, who pitched for the Orioles from 2009-11, was up briefly this season. Hes on the 40-man roster.So is Steve Johnson, who like Berken, has started at Norfolk and pitched briefly in relief with the Orioles this season.Two of the current starters could be long relievers if the team acquired an additional starter in the trade market, Miguel Gonzalez or Tommy Hunter.Gonzalez had two lengthy relief appearances before being given a chance to start. Hes been impressive as a starter, so hes not going back to the bullpen now.Hunter could also move back to the bullpen if Jake Arrieta or Brian Matusz was recalled.Arrieta, Hunter and Matusz all have given up more than a hit per inning. Matt Lindstrom and Ayala are the only relievers whove given up more than a hit per nine innings.Lindstrom didnt allow an earned run in his first 12 outings, but in his 13th, he tore a tendon in his right middle finger and allowed his first two earned runs.Since missing nearly seven weeks, Lindstrom has been slow to regain his footing. Hes allowed four runs and 12 hits in 8 13 innings.Ayala didnt give up a run in his first 15 23 innings. After his initial 13 appearances, his ERA has been 4.22.Because the starters didnt go long enough for an extended period, the bullpen had to be used more than Showalter would have liked, though hes been careful to not overuse them.Jim Johnson has been in 43 games, Pedro Strop 41, Patton 39, Ayala and Darren ODay 38. Detroits Joaquin Benoit and New Yorks Boone Logan currently lead the American League with 47 appearances.The best news for the bullpen in weeks has been the recent sturdiness of the starters. In the five-game winning streak, the starters have each won consecutive games. Hunter, Wei-Yin Chen, Gonzalez, Chris Tillman and Zach Britton all picked up wins. Even though the team has three five-game streaks, this is the first time the starters have each won.The trading deadline is eight days away, and it would be shocking if Dan Duquette didnt make a move to add a starter and some help at first base, third base or left field.The Orioles do have Socolovich, Berken, Johnson, Eveland, Oscar Villarreal and Zach Phillips at Norfolk, all of whom can be useful trade chips or move up to the majors if some of the bullpen arms have to be moved.While Duquette probably doesnt want to move major league arms, Ayala, Lindstrom or ODay could be traded if needed to help acquire some starting help.The team is back to five games above .500, and through 95 games, attention can now be turned to the wild card race. The Orioles are six games behind the Yankees for first place in the AL East, and though they still have 10 games with New York, the wild card is more realistic.Detroit and Texas look solid as the Central and Western winners, and the Orioles (51-44), Chicago (50-45), Los Angeles (52-44), Oakland (51-44), Tampa Bay (49-47), Toronto(48-47) and Boston (48-48) are all closely battling for the playoff spots.Thats the good news. The bad news is those teams will also be jockeying to acquire the same players Duquette is.

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.


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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler