Mychal Givens, RP
Steamer Projections: 45.0 IP, 3.67 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 3.7 BB/9
The hallmark of the Buck Showalter Orioles has been the ability to nail down tight ballgames. The eighth and ninth innings are a virtual lock with Darren O’Day and Zach Britton. It’s been the seventh inning that has sometimes posed a problem to the Orioles. You just can’t always feel confident in Brian Matusz, Chaz Roe, Brad Brach, et al. With the starting rotation likely to be handing the ball over to the ‘pen before the eighth inning more often than not yet again, the middle-relief corps is going to continue getting a workout. Perhaps the biggest reason the Orioles were able to roll to 189 victories (instead of 146) in their two playoff years was the ability to win the 50-50 games.
The projection systems are still unsure of what to make of Givens. His dominant performance at the end of last season is a very small sample size. Givens came up and essentially matched his minor-league numbers. The models just don’t know what to make of him. The biggest concern with Givens is that left-handed hitters may begin seeing the ball better out of his hand and making adjustments.
Givens has the potential to be a big-time weapon in the late innings, and one that easily beats his projected statistics. His fastball and slider, thrown from a low arm slot, proved very difficult for major-league hitters to handle in his brief debut last season. He struck out 38 in 30.0 innings and allowed only one home run. The best part — Givens walked only six hitters in 22 appearances. His time as a pitcher has been brief, but Givens has mastered the art of throwing strikes, at a high velocity, from an awkward arm slot. He’s Darren O’Day, if O’Day threw 95 mph. Givens is untested for the most part, as he pitched most of his innings after the Orioles were realistically eliminated from playoff contention. Showalter needs to test Givens early on in the season, and if all goes well, he will prove to be an extremely valuable asset out of the bullpen.