clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Chaz Roe was a cheap and pleasant surprise for the 2015 Orioles

New, 1 comment

The little-known journeyman played a bigger role for the O's bullpen than anyone expected this season.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Back in December, the Orioles signed Chaz Roe to a minor league deal with very little fanfare. Instead there was mostly laughter, thanks to his amusing name and Roch Kubatko tweeting things like "It's going to get done" as if the team was signing Max Scherzer. With the major roster crunch the team had in the bullpen, few expected Roe to ever appear for the Orioles, much less throw over 40 innings. But we were wrong - thanks to injuries to players like Wesley Wright and Jason Garcia, as well as the team sending Ryan Webb to the Dodgers, Roe got his shot and took advantage of the opportunity.

Roe made his debut on May 24th, throwing two perfect innings with no baserunners and two strikeouts. Over the next 2+ months he was excellent, with a 2.43 ERA at the end of July thanks to a strikeout rate of nearly a batter per inning. Beyond that, he just looked like a major league pitcher. This wasn't a guy with AAA stuff like Evan Meek managing to strand runners and grit his way to a low ERA over a stretch of a month or two. This was a guy throwing a 94 MPH fastball with Jim Johnson-like movement on it, and a slider that seemed to break about three feet. He looked like he belonged, and Buck agreed; by the end of July he was starting to supplant Tommy Hunter as a preferred 6th/7th inning guy.

Unfortunately, the injury bug struck in August. After three straight poor outings, Roe was played on the DL with shoulder tendinitis and missed about a month. He returned on September 2nd and pitched only 6.2 innings in eight appearances the rest of the season, allowing 7 earned runs and striking out only three batters. His struggles both immediately before and in the month after his injury raised his season ERA to 4.14.

That's not exactly impressive for a reliever, but it doesn't tell the whole story. I tend not to put too much stock in a player's stats immediately before or after a DL trip, and that was when most of the damage was done to his ERA. Beyond that, he was unlucky on balls in play: he allowed a .444 BABIP in his limited appearances from August on, and a .342 BABIP overall on the season.

Roe will be back next year, and will probably assume the role he was starting to take over last summer as a 6th/7th inning reliever behind Zach Britton, Brad Brach, and Mychal Givens. He's also cheap and controllable, as he won't hit arbitration until 2018. Since Roe is a bit of journeyman now, it's easy to forget that he was once a first round pick and a legitimate prospect - with solid velocity and a slider like this, you can see why. Roe took the long route to get here thanks to some command issues and an Adderall suspension earlier in his career. But he's here now, and he clearly has the stuff to stick around. If he can command it well, he could be an effective bullpen option who helps to replace Darren O`Day (assuming O'Day walks), and he'd be doing it for less than $1 million. If he struggles, then at least he's not much of a sunk cost. The upside for Roe is far bigger than the downside, and that's a good thing for the O's.