20 November 2015

Do The Orioles Already Have The 'Next' Darren O'Day?

In early September, I looked at Mychal Givens and the impressive company he was keeping. And just to be clear, he ended the season with 30 innings pitched. So there's far from a large sample to draw anything conclusive.

That being said, it's hard not to at least be intrigued by the following table. Here's a list of relievers in 2015 who pitched at least 30 innings, had an ERA under 2.00, had a strikeout rate over 11, and a walk rate under 2:

Rk Player SO IP ERA SO9 BB9 Year Age Tm FIP ERA+ OPS+
1 Darren O'Day 82 65.1 1.52 11.30 1.93 2015 32 BAL 2.49 274 48
2 Mychal Givens 38 30.0 1.80 11.40 1.80 2015 25 BAL 1.73 232 45
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/20/2015.

Going back to 1961, only 10 other pitchers have accomplished that feat. Obviously it helps Givens to be at the bottom of the innings spectrum, but it does show how dominant he could be.

There's no one quite like Darren O'Day in the majors, but the Orioles may just have the closest thing to him. Perhaps that's why the O's were so reluctant to include Givens in any potential trade during last season's non-waiver deadline. There's no real way of knowing until we get to see him pitch more.

If O'Day does depart, which grows more likely every day, then Brad Brach may get the first crack at the set-up role. But Givens could easily be thrust into set-up duty as well. Is it ideal to use a 25-year-old with limited experience in the majors (and with pitching, in general) in that role? Maybe not. Sometimes that's what teams have to do when they have limited resources -- in this case, a mid-market team -- and are trying to decide which players to sign to fill a number of holes.

There's a case to be made that the Orioles should trade Zach Britton now, reap the benefits of the increased value of dominant relief pitchers (see Craig Kimbrel), and re-sign O'Day. Britton, O'Day, Brach, Givens et al. is a very solid group of relievers, but even one of Britton/O'Day is still pretty good. If the O's aren't at least exploring a Britton trade, they should be.

If Givens ends up being anything close to O'Day in the next few years, the O's will be thrilled. And even if they don't end up in the same bullpen in 2016 and beyond, at least Givens got to work with O'Day for a while and hopefully absorb what he could.


Mike Bonsiero said...

I think O'Day is a really interesting case, because the argument for signing him and the argument for not signing him are essentially the same argument (especially as it pertains to Givens as a replacement): the volatility and lack of durability inherent in relievers.

The reason O'Day is so valuable is because he's maintained a track-record of excellence for multiple years when other elite relievers have had such short shelf lives. But because elite relievers tend to have such short shelf-lives, it's risky to project another 3-4 years of 1-1.5 win pitching from O'Day. If he's truly one of the rare exceptions, then he's probably worth the 4-32 or so that he'll get; if he's not, then you might as well pay Givens the minimum for the same range of outcomes.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Yeah, agreed. Well said. I think that's why it wouldn't be all that surprising to see O'Day back with the Orioles. I still think he walks, though, and takes the best offer available. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Maria said...

Very interesting article, thank you! In addition to his numbers, he seems to have "intangibles" - i.e., he seems to have a lot of presence and professionalism. I like that guy.

Anonymous said...

I don't not think enough is being said about trading Britton and resigning O'Day. He is at his max value right now (years/salary/performance). O'Day seems to of mastered his craft, while Britton relies on a pitch that is tied to him maintaining his velocity. If the Orioles can get a starting pitcher or corner outfielder out of the deal it should be considered.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

I think a lot of people have mentioned it as something that would make sense, especially after the Kimbrel trade. But it just doesn't seem likely to happen, and I am not sure the Orioles want to trade Britton.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Houston could put together a suitable package for Britton? MLBTR is reporting their interest in a closer/late-inning LH reliever. The two guys who fit that bill best are probably Andrew Miller and Zach Britton.
Just sifting through their 40-man, I don't see a clear fit. They have young pitching, but it seems like the Orioles would be more interested in talent that could help in 2016.