clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Darren O'Day was again a bullpen stalwart for the 2014 Orioles

Picking up Darren O'Day's 2015 club option was a no-brainer for the Orioles, as he gave them over sixty innings of excellent relief work for the third year in a row.

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The 2014 Orioles featured one of the best bullpens in baseball. Tommy Hunter recovered nicely in his usual role after struggling in the spring as the team's closer, Zach Britton emerged as a lockdown ninth-inning option and posted an absurdly high groundball rate, and late-season acquisition Andrew Miller gave the team a nearly unhittable fireman to use in high-leverage situations. And, as fans in Baltimore have become so accustomed to, Darren O'Day was once again one of baseball's best setup men.

In 2014, O'Day posted his best strikeout rate with the Orioles, retiring 26.9% of batters with a K, the best rate of his career by K%. His walk rate did climb to a level we haven't seen before (7.0%), but O'Day allowed so few hits that his WHIP was the lowest it's been in Baltimore (0.89). He also induced more ground balls (44.6%) than he has since his rookie season in 2008, helping bring his home run rate back to 0.79 HR/9 after being a little vulnerable in that department in 2013.

O'Day struggled against lefties in 2013 as well, and some fans were worried that he may have needed to be used as more of a righty specialist going forward. Fortunately, the submariner dispelled that notion, returning his platoon split to something much closer to his career levels and improving his wOBA against them (just .265, his best since becoming an Oriole).

If there's anything to pick at in O'Day's performance this year, it's how he did in the postseason. He allowed a solo home run to Miguel Cabrera in the first game of the ALDS, cutting the Orioles' lead to one run. But, one, it's Miguel Cabrera, and two, the O's scored eight runs in the bottom of that eighth inning, making it a just-before-garbage-time homer. Then, in the tenth inning of ALCS game one, O'Day allowed a big home run to Alex Gordon and a walk to Salvador Perez (who would later score on a home run by Mike Moustakas), taking the loss in that contest. He also took the loss in game two, but that was just a joke.

Still, it was very easy for Dan Duquette to decide to activate O'Day's team option for the 2015 season. He will be making $4.25M, which is a good deal for the Warehouse, given that the price of a win is generally thought to be at least $6M now and O'Day has been worth at least 0.7 fWAR (or at least 2.0(!) bWAR) in each of the last three years.

Buck Showalter will presumably continue to use O'Day much as he has in the past: often, usually in the eighth inning, and occasionally earlier when somebody else gets into a jam. Barring a surprising relief pitching acquisition, O'Day may well be the team's best reliever in 2015, especially if Zach Britton isn't quite able to duplicate his breakout relief season. O'Day has the advantage of not being locked into any particular role, though, and the more that Buck Showalter uses him as a fireman, the better, in my book.