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With the inconsistency and unavailability of Orioles closer Craig Kimbrel, it appears that the club is going to need a different approach to saving all of these games that they’re leading late. How will Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde approach the bullpen rotation now that the starters have returned with strong efforts on the road?


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Luke Jones, Nestor J. Aparicio

Nestor J. Aparicio  00:01

Welcome home we are wn st am 1570, Towson Baltimore. It is a beautiful week to be a baseball fan around here. The Orioles taken on the Washington Nationals for a couple games middle the week but we back home on Friday, Luke and I will have Maryland lottery scratch offs in the Pac Man giveaway on Friday at fade Lee’s from two of the five we’ll be down there set up this weekend as the Arizona Diamondbacks come in. Hopefully orals are still in first place by the end of the week. And it’s been quite a week. Ravens a little bit more on downtime, which gives my man Luke Jones a little time to opine. Then we talked a lot about the starting pitcher. We talked a lot about prosperity. You talked a lot about great young players and Jackson holiday coming and Mateo holding down the fort a lot of good news over the weekend. And you know, these Oriole fans, you bring up one little nugget of anything that’s not orange rainbows and sunshine. But the closer situation, it kind of goes away for a week. And when you win a couple of games. Nice sweep on the road. But the Kimbrel thing, it’s a little bit of a whack a mole. It’s gonna keep popping up Luke and we did not address it because there’s so much prosperity in our previous segment. But we probably should I mean, long term, this is probably the biggest issue they have. And it probably you know, it was going to be that way when Batista went down last year. It’s like you don’t replace that with anything other than something suboptimal. And this is suboptimal. Well,


Luke Jones  01:30

you can’t do it through the lens of a one for one trade off as much as it looks that way in a in a tidy way that the Orioles spent what $13 million on Craig Kimbrel. And, you know, guys, that high on the all time saves list and a guy who could be in the Hall of Fame one day, all of that, you still have to recognize where he is at this point in his career. What he is at this point in his career, in contrast to what Felix Batista was for five months for the Orioles last year. And as I said to you over and over throughout the offseason, even the absolute best projection as the Orioles or any team in Major League Baseball worth its salt at this point, we’ll look through data, and they’ll have their projections and different outcomes for each player. You know, with projection systems, the best possible projection for Craig Kimbrel was not going to be what Felix Batista did for them for five months last year. So I think, first of all, I think we need to be realistic fair. Keep our heads about this. It’s not as though Craig Kimbrel has been a disaster. I mean, this guy got off to a really good start. I mean, he blew his first save of the season. But we all remember that was a bloop and what he was a sacrifice fly. You know, it wasn’t like he got lit up. He actually pitched really, really well. You know, it was on an absolute roll. recently talking the last two, two and a half weeks. Yeah, it’s been disconcerting. It’s been unsettling. It’s been unnerving. whatever adjective you want to use to describe it. It’s been that as far as angst and not feeling overly confident. But I think a lot of this is needing to understand what Kent Craig Kimbrel has been in recent years and what he’s going to be for the likely the remainder of his career, he has been a more up and down proposition over the last four or five years, you don’t need to even dig that deeply into the numbers to see that he’s been a guy that at times is still been really good. And at times still looks like the old Craig Kimbrel, who was amazing with Atlanta and Boston and going back years ago. And we’ve also seen him have some seasons where the era was just plain ugly. And he really struggled. So I think so there’s that, too. You’re talking about someone in his mid 30s. You know, he’s on the edge, not even the back nine of his career. He’s on like the back few holes of his career, realistically speaking at this point. So I think you have to understand what you have. And I think, what the last couple of weeks to me, if that’s taught us anything, it’s not for me that I’m done with Craig Kimbrel. Or he can’t close or he can’t do it at all, or he’s an absolute terrible signing. And look, I’m not gonna sit here and judge the signing one way or the other to this point. It’s the first week of May. But I think what we are seeing is perhaps a cumulative impact of, yeah, he’s probably not the guy that you want to be calling on back to back nights very often. Certainly not a guy you want to be calling on to pitch three out of four nights very often. And I think maybe we’re seeing that add up a little bit. And, you know, the Oakland series that came to a head, he had some upper back tightness. They backed off of him for what four days, saw him work out a couple times in Baltimore during that Yankee series even though he didn’t appear I think he did warm up on in finale, if I remember correctly, so he was available that day. But hey, he came in on Friday night and a three nothing save situation. And he struck out the side. And he looks really, he looked good. He looked fine. He looked like Craig Kimbrel was looking earlier in the year for them comes back out Saturday night in a tight to nothing game. It did not look good. And he’s walking guys. And he’s not throwing strikes. So I hate to make too much out of those two appearances. But I feel like at least for the time being Brandon Hyde in the organization is getting they’re getting their answer in terms of how often can you depend on on Craig Kimbrel. And I don’t think it’s a case where he’s going to be pitching back to back nights very often. And I think if he does, you need to be ready. To his credit in the way that Brandon Hyde was on Saturday night where he saw it was going sideways. And guess what they pulled him and it worked out. And to be clear, I saw the Philadelphia Phillies do this with Craig Kimbrel a lot, especially down the stretch last year where he struggled at times. And if he struggled, they did not hesitate. And I think that’s where you’re hoping him as a veteran realizing some of the mortality of his career, but but also just being a professional and Brandon Hyde, if you’re him having the credibility with his players to To be honest, where you if you say, Look, if this isn’t going well, Craig, I love you. And that doesn’t mean I’m not going to go to you in a couple of nights. But I got to put someone else in there. And if you’re Craig Kimbrel, you got to recognize and say, Hey, I’m not gonna throw strikes, skips not gonna leave me out there to blow this blow the game. So, you know, I’m not trying to be dismissive about it. I’m not trying to be too reactionary one way or the other. But I think we’re seeing that, as we should have known all along, and I think everyone did know. But in the moment, that doesn’t make you any less frustrated that this isn’t Felix Batista and navigating the final month of the season last year, without Felix Batista was one thing, when you’re already in a position that, you know, from the moment he went down, the Oreos knew that they were still going to make the playoffs, right. Even if the division wasn’t sewn up at that point, they knew they were going to be in the postseason. It’s a different animal when you’re talking about navigating six plus months without Felix Batista. So it’s a collective effort, whoever they were going to bring in whether it was Kimbrel, or whether they were going to pony up the money for Josh Hader, it wasn’t going to be the same exact contribution that Felix a healthy Felix Batista gives you. So this was always going to need to be a collaborative effort. And I think what we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks, only reinforces that that I still think Craig Kimbrel can be a big part of what they do. But I think you have to start viewing this through a different lens in terms of, He’s not just going to be the guy that you’re going to hand the ball to every single night, no questions asked, I think you’re gonna have to look at the workload a lot more. And I think you’re gonna have to manage that a lot more. And that’s where it becomes that much more important. And that’s where as we get deeper into the summer and closer to the trade deadline, you need more high leverage arms, you need to have three, four, maybe five guys that on any given night, you feel confident in saying, Okay, I might need to play the matchups a little bit. And you talked about that in our previous segment. You know, it might be Danny cool on one night, because two out of the three guys do up in the ninth inning or left handed hitters. It might be Jacob Webb on a night where there’s a couple right handed right handed hitters. I mean, Jacob Webb struck out Aaron judge twice in that Yankee series. So it’s not to say that it can’t be done with quote, lesser guys. I mean, you got to have trust in him. You’re not gonna throw Mike Bauman out there in a safe situation. But I think we’re seeing that this is going to have to be much more collaborative. And it was always going to be that way. I if there’s something that told me that people didn’t pay attention to Craig Kimbrel, the last few years, it was anyone who was assuming that you’re just going to hand the ball to him for every single safe situation. I just, I never thought that was going to be the case. And I think we’re seeing that play out. I think you got to be more mindful of his workload. I think you’re gonna have to pick your spots. And I think you need to have a backup plan in place for lack of a better term. Now, some nights, you might just be in a pickle where you’re just like, Okay, our bullpens kind of shot for tonight. You know, we can’t go to know again because he just pitched the previous two nights. Well, this

Nestor J. Aparicio  09:32

is the one thing where baseball taking away game, right like this is where baseball putting the guy on second base getting these games over with that your bullpen doesn’t get annihilated in the way that it could after a long night, hey, you know, not not just a long leg because you’re starting to lose the game in the fourth inning, but you wanted to play in 14 or 15 innings all that’s gone. So that’s that’s a good part of being good in this era is you’re not going to have that problem a real depletable But in that way

Luke Jones  10:04

you’re not but at the same time in this era starters don’t go as deep. I mean, we just we know that right? I mean, that’s just simple reality there is not as I as you as everyone wakes up Monday morning after this sweep in Cincinnati. There is not let me I’m almost positive. I’m looking at it right now. Yeah, there is not a team in Major League Baseball right now including the Philadelphia Phillies, who have Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Ranger Suarez, who was just NL pitcher of the month you know, their their rotation, you’ll you’ll take that top three against anyone in baseball right now. There is not a rotation. There’s not a team in baseball right now. That is averaging six innings per start. You know, they are just under that mark. The Orioles you know, for all the talk that you’ll hear not so much this. Obviously this series, they pitch really, really well. But you know, for the talk that you’ll hear. And every fan base does this. I’m not picking on Orioles fans, it’s just the reality of where baseball is in 2024. For better or worse. You’ll hear people say, well, they need to pitch deeper games. The Orioles right now are seven, seven in the majors and starter innings seven. They’re their guys are pitching as deep as anyone else in baseball really other say for Philadelphia and Seattle. And if you want to throw maybe San Diego in there, I mean that you know, but it’s really close. I mean, those other teams are unbelievable. The Phillies are the only team that maybe has a little they’ve opened up a tiny bit of space. But this is the game. So to your point. Yes, we don’t see the extra inning marathon games, that taxable pin in the same way. But you’re rarely seeing starters go eight innings anymore. I mean, it’s kind of been the seventh inning start has almost become the new complete game. I mean, that’s kind of

Nestor J. Aparicio  11:47


sorta where we are. But you also don’t see one on one matchups where point is you get four leaders in one inning either, right, like we’re not getting that either. Because when you come in, you have a pitch. So burning up arms using six relievers in a game in the seventh, eighth and ninth inning.

Luke Jones  12:08

Yeah, but on the regular you’re using a minimum of three. I mean, you know, you’re you’re not having very many starts where you see a starter go eight, and then the closer comes in for the night. I mean, you just don’t see a whole lot of that anymore. And again, I’m not saying that that’s good for old school fans who cringe hearing that I’m just telling you where it is from just reality. Most nights for

Nestor J. Aparicio  12:29

guys or for worse. Right. Most guys most nights and three relievers. Right. Okay.

Luke Jones  12:36

Typically, typically, I mean, and that’s the things, that’s if things go relatively well, right. I mean, that’s just to where it is right now. So the point is, with bringing it back to Craig Kimbrel, you are always going to need a couple more high leverage guys. And and if there’s something about this team, you know, we talked about it a little bit talking about the starters in our previous segment. But I will continue to say yes, they absolutely are going to need another high leverage arm that you would view either as a closer or as another June 2023. And your Chrono type guy who’s just lights out unbelievable, even if he’s not a ninth inning guy for whatever his current club is right now. They’re going to need that, you know now. Well, Jacob Webb continued to do what he’s doing. I have no idea. He may not even be on the roster in two in two months. You know, same with someone like Suarez, we’ll see where Tyler Wells is when he comes back, because it doesn’t look like there’s a rotation spot for Tyrod Taylor wells anymore. So again, that goes back to the trickle down effect of if you have a healthy starting rotation, couple guys can go to the bullpen and maybe help you out there. So so there’s some of that and there’s still all of that’s ongoing. Right. I mean, the roster is a living canvas. We’ve talked about that. But you look at the pen, that’s why you need you’re not going to have eight. I understand like people will complain about Mike Bellman you know, and he was shaky on Sunday and the 11 Nothing game. You’re not going to have eight such shutdown relievers in your bullpen. I mean, you’re just not going to have that. But you better have, I’d say five guys that you feel can can do that for you at least sometimes, right? Some five guys that can pitch the eighth inning in a one run game or the ninth inning in a one or two run game, at least sometimes because, again, Kimbrel can’t do it every night. I think we’re seeing literally even if physically he could do it from just being effective. It’s not That’s not who he is anymore. You can’t have Cano pitching four out of five nights on the regular I mean, you know, you can’t do that with Danny coulomb, you know, so you need you know, it’s almost like hockey, right? I mean, where you have your shifts, you know, you you have to have some line changes available on a night to night basis where you kind of say all right, you know, Chronos down tonight or you know, can Royals pitch two out of the last four nights he can’t go again. It’s gonna need to be Jacob Webb, you know, it’s gonna be need to be Danny coulomb tonight, you know, so you have to have some of that. And I think that’s every team. You know, Felix Batista is such a unique talent. And we can even debate that. How much was his workload impacting the fact that he had an injury? Or did he just break because pitchers get hurt all the time. And, and there’s only so much you can do when a guy’s throwing 102 miles per hour that UCL is only going to hold up so long, right? So


Nestor J. Aparicio  15:33

we got guys complaining, they’re getting hurt because of the pitch clock literally, right?

Luke Jones  15:36

I mean, there’s so many different variables. And look, I mean, that’s such a can of worms right now. That’s just so I think so difficult to pinpoint one variable. I think, first of all, I think this is a trend that’s been going on for a very long time. Right now, I think if you look at some of the whether you’re talking James Andrews or some of the other what Meister is the doctor, team, doctor for the Rangers, who’s done some of the Orioles, elbow surgeries for either major league guys or minor league guys, you hear them talk that, you know, youth baseball, the amount of spin that guys are trying to put on the ball, all those different factors. I mean, these are, it’s an epidemic. And it’s I don’t want to hear that it’s just the pitch clock in the same way that I’m not going to dismiss that the pitch clock isn’t a variable. But these things have been happening for years now. And it’s trended in a bad direction for years. And, you know, that’s why you need as many pictures as possible. I mean, it I was even talking with someone about this. Last Orioles homestand. That in a strange way. And I don’t mean that it’s a perfect comparison, because pitching is so much more valuable overall it within the sport. But I almost think teams have to look at pitchers like the NFL looks at running backs in the way that they’re really valuable for the time that they’re effective. But long term. It’s not generally it doesn’t feel like it’s a great investment because they’re going to break down. So, you know, there’s again, it’s not as you know, it’s not apples to apples, because you know, pitching is just so much more valuable to the sport overall than anyone running back to it to his football team. But there’s just so much that goes that goes on because so you just need a lot of depth. I mean, anytime you think you have enough pitching and you know, Mike Elias kind of joked about it last homestand and then Grayson Rodriguez, winds up on the aisle, Justice Kyle Bradish and John means are coming back and look, Grayson Rodriguez, presumably is going to be thrown out again. Assuming he comes back then great, and you know what, probably someone else Something will happen, you know, someone will tweak a hamstring or someone else’s arm will start hurting. You know, it’s just Well,

Nestor J. Aparicio  17:45

Brad as your means, right? I mean, we’re a week into this. We talked a little bit about this, but not at length. But what is a whole no ballclub getting off the bus a month from now? If these guys are making turns? And I don’t know what it means for Suarez Irvin or even Dean Kramer on weeks when they only play twice in four days, right? Like, I don’t know who the fourth, fifth sixth seventh starters gonna be. But we were trying to figure out who the third and fourth stars were two weeks ago. Sure,

Luke Jones  18:13


sure. But but at the same time, okay, those guys might be okay. Heaven forbid, Corbin burns starts, you know, something’s barking for him. I mean, it’s just, it’s, I don’t mean to be flippant about it. But you have to prepare for anything. I mean, Brandon Hyde said it during the Yankee series, he was asked kind of in general terms that he was asked about Bradish at that point in time, because, you know, Bradish, obviously made the start in the finale. And he really just said, like, it’s tough to make any assumptions. You know, it’s why you try not to be too positive with any one pitcher and his health. And you don’t want to be too pessimistic in the same way that from the moment that Mike Elias announced that Kyle Bradish was dealing with the UCF Oh, you had fans, you wanted them to get Tommy John surgery two weeks before that. And now we’re seeing them back. And look, that doesn’t mean Kyle Bradish is going to be pitching all year and fine, and we’ll never have elbow issues again. I mean, we just don’t know. That’s why you need so much depth. And anytime you think you have enough pitching, you’re dull, you’ll typically find out that you don’t and I think such a great example of this is look at the rays who a year ago at this time last year look like they might run away with the Al east and then go look at the number of injuries they had to their rotation. And it certainly was admirable that they still ended up taking the Orioles all the way to the very end of the season for the Al East title. But a year later they’re still dealing with the fallout of some of those rotation injuries where guys still aren’t back and you’re seeing the rays you know this year they’ve kind of realities said settled in for them not that they’re terrible, but they’re clearly not playing at the same clip and you know, maybe they’ll catch fire at some point. I’m not going to write them off but they’ve dealt with so many rotation injuries. I mean, I’ll say this much of the Orioles. dealt with that many rotation injuries, we’d be having a completely different discussion as far as their hopes for 2024. So it really is one of those situations where kind of holding your breath every time, you know, guy goes out there pitches Well, how’s he feel the next day. I mean, that was the issue with grace and Rodriguez, Grayson pitch Well, against the Yankees, you and I talked about it the next day, you know, he kind of was grinding through it wasn’t as best command. But his Velo was normal, you know, you pitched effectively, you know, gave you results that you liked. But then the next day, woke up in the shoulder was a little more guys are always sore the day after start, I mean, that there’s normal soreness, but that was a little above the normal range. So, you know, you shut them down for a couple weeks, and you hope that it’s just inflammation. And sometimes it just is, sometimes the guy just misses a couple of weeks and gets back out there. And, you know, maybe alters his strength training a little bit, you know, gets a little extra treatment between starts, and he’s good to go. Sometimes it’s not that simple. And sometimes we know it’s more complicated. So as exciting as it is to get Bradish back and to have radish look like radish, how’s that going to continue to work? And in John means case. Look, John meets pitch. Well, last September, right. I mean, he had that Saturday night start in Cleveland, what was that the thing was the next the last weekend of the regular season. He looked like John means and we were all saying at that point, wow, they got a number three starter to go with, with Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez in the postseason. And while we saw how that worked a couple of weeks later, when his elbow started bothering him again, and they shut him down. So it wasn’t a new injury. But it’s the complex complications of Tommy John surgery from a long term standpoint that, you know, some guys come back and 12 months, and they’re fine. And you don’t think twice and sometimes it’s a little more complicated. So as it stands with the pitching, I mean, you really like overall where they are right now. Other than Grayson Rodriguez, because radish and means are back but, you know, get asked me to week how their pitches do against me that month, how their pitching is doing. And I mean, it’s just it’s a different conversation. And I’m not saying that to be doom and gloom for the Orioles. It’s the same exact case for everyone. I mean, right now the Yankees who are right there with the Orioles. The big discussion is, where’s Derek coldness? Where’s Jericho? Where is he in his throwing progression? When’s he going to pitch? Is it gonna be back in June is he going to be back by the all star break? I don’t know. In the same way we didn’t know about Bradish until finally took the hill and a one start and it looked like Kyle Bradish. Hopefully it looks the same way this week. And hopefully he’s still feeling good after the start. And I don’t know, maybe if he pitches for two or three months, we’ll stop thinking about that. You know, it’s not a narrative, it’s reality. But it very much is, uh, I think every general manager, every field manager, every pitching coach in baseball, I think there’s a collective holding their breath, especially for your top guys. That guys are just gonna feel right, because the way that these guys throw today with foot max effort, and throwing as hard as they can and spinning the ball and the torque they put on their elbow and their shoulder and, you know, the twist that they have on the wrist trying to get balls to to just break the way that they do on sliders and Sweepers and quarter balls and all of that cutters. I mean, it’s just the human arm wasn’t meant for that, you know, Jim Palmer might have said that 40 years ago and it’s just becomes more and more extreme every year. I mean, guys are just doing absurd things with the baseball but there’s a cost you know, there’s there’s no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to what some of these guys are doing mechanically to, to get the spin to get the velocity that they’re getting. And unfortunately, some guys hold up, but many more break down at some point in time. And, you know, if you’re the Orioles, you know, it’s trending, you know, it was trending up, you know, with Bradish and means and then, you know, you take a step back with Gregory’s and Rodriguez. But, you know, I think you call it Whack a Mole. Right? I mean, that’s, it’s kind of what it just feels like for any team now trying to navigate 162 With your pitching staff.

Nestor J. Aparicio  24:09

Well, the interesting thing for me with Elias with Kimbrel it’s going to be you know, an every night issue because his team’s going to have leads in the seventh eighth and ninth inning. It’s going to have high leverage can have close games but a lot of close games last year. I like the 11th and nothing games and they screw up the shutout late but the and Bauman you know even given these low leverage situations guys come in, they give up a run. And then you don’t feel as confident saying well, we’ll bring him in over the weekend. But I would think that between Elias and Hyde and the way they’ve played this and they now at least know what they have that on nights when we know Kimbrel is not available. Try to set up Cano are trying to figure out what that other option is going to be. And that’s hard to do, but it’s easier when you only play two nights this Week. So the Nationals on Tuesday Wednesday. Orioles get down that’d be burns. It’ll also be Bradish we hope to see means on the weekend, Luke and I will be at fade Lee’s on Friday from two to five. I will I have my Pac Man scratch offs or I have to hold them up. My Pac Man scratch offs are cool. We’ll be giving these away on Friday from the Maryland lottery our friends at Jiffy Lube, multi care as well as Liberty pure solutions keeping my water clean. Also our friends at the Royal farms and coal roofing filling up my mug here so that I am I’m chipper all week it is our 25th anniversary. The video has been released. No one listens. everyone hears big appreciation to the many of you who have seen parts of it, all of it. I’m releasing parts of it and on social media as well but it is all available. It’s 36 minutes long. The Orioles don’t even play on Monday or Thursday this week. So you get a chance to go check that out. We also have Preakness coverage next week. We had the election going on this week as well. So tons and tons of things out there. Luke and I are gonna talk some football as well. Before the week is over. I am Nestor we are W N S T A and 1570 Taos to Baltimore celebrating 25 years of madness around your all of it brought to you by our friends at curio wellness and Farr and daughter back for more on Baltimore positive and wn st right after this

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