Where Should O's Look to Boost the Bullpen?Posted on November 12, 2013 by Dillon Atkinson
The Baltimore Orioles needs have been expressed over and over and over again: Starting Pitcher, Left Fielder, Designated Hitter. But what about the bullpen?
The bullpen was nothing special in 2013 compared to how outstanding they performed in 2012. It doesn't even take statistics to point out the obvious: Jim Johnson was up-and-down throughout the whole season, Tommy Hunter and Darren O'Day couldn't face lefties, Brian Matusz could only pitch against the Red Sox, Troy Patton was the opposite of a lefty specialist, and T.J. McFarland allowed all of the inherited runners in the world to score.
What the Orioles need is a shut down reliever who can face hitters that bat in either batter's box. Here are a couple good options for the Birds to explore.
Edward Mujica, RHP
Mujica served as one of the few closers for the National League Champion Cardinals in 2013. As a first year closer, he cashed in 37 times out of 41 opportunities in a save situation. He posted a 2.78 ERA in 65 games, and can pitch to both lefties and righties. In 2013, left-handed hitters batted .232 off of him, and batters from the right side hit .256. He brings a fastball in the mid-90s with a change-up that drops off the table about seven to eight miles per hour lower than his heater. He can provide a consistent seventh or eighth inning set up for Jim Johnson, or even fill the closers role if Johnson isn't consistent enough.
Eric O'Flaherty, LHP
Since 2009, lefty O'Flaherty has been lights out. In 295 career games in a Braves uniform, O'Flaherty has a stellar 1.99 ERA. Lefties have many troubles facing him, as they hold a low .200 average against him in his career. He's an average pitcher against right handed hitters, so he's a valuable pick up. With Troy Patton not being a situational lefty pitcher, the Orioles could use a guy like O'Flaherty against hitters like Cano, Ortiz, Mauer, and so on. Having two lefty specialists in the bullpen can be huge in certain games. O'Flaherty and Matusz could be the best lefty duo on a team in 2014 if the Orioles can sign him.
If the Orioles can snag these two arms in free agency this winter, they could very well have one of the best bullpens in 2014. Mujica and O'Flaherty are two great relievers on the market, and they have the chance to really help this ball club.