The Orioles Should Call Up Fernando Abad Because... Why Not?

As we close down the summer of another lost Oriole season at the big league level, one of the things we all look forward to is young talent being promoted to the big league club. We've been looking forward to the promotion of Jahmai Jones for a while now, with some optimistic fans hoping for a surprise Adley Rutschman call up. When you are a 38-72 team, these are the things you have look forward to, outside of the chance to spoil the postseason hopes of a contender.

I know what you are thinking. "You just mentioned young talent, but you're saying Fernando Abad should be called up?!" And no, a 36 year old longtime LOOGY relief pitcher does not count as young talent. The 4.44 ERA down in Norfolk [1] might turn you away from a call up as well. However, Abad does possess a few traits that might prove valuable down the stretch.

For the basics, Abad does have experience pitching in the AL East, a 43.2 inning 2017 in 2017 with the Red Sox [1]. That stint proved to be quite a success for Abad, as he pitched to a 3.30 ERA while surrendering only a .242 opponent average [1]. Those are solid stats, and would look outstanding in the current Orioles bullpen.

Additionally, despite his mediocre ERA and 30 hits allowed in 24.1 innings with Norfolk this season, Abad has surrendered only 6 free passes in that sample size, showcasing solid control. This, as yesterday's 9-6 loss to the Rays showcased, a game in which the O's gave up 4 walks alone in a 6 run game deciding 8th, is an often overlooked trait among pitchers.

One interesting tidbit about Abad is the change of his pitching arsenal between 2017 and 2019. According to Baseball Savant, in 2017, Abad threw 2 variations of a fastball, a 4-seam one and a sinker, 28.9% and 23.5% of the time respectively [2]. However, in 2019. Abad increased his sinker usage to 56.7% of the time (97 sinkers in total), compared to only 2 pitches classified as a 4-seam fastball in total [2]. This change in percentage also resulted in a major uptick in his groundball percentage, from 46.2% in 2017, to 62.2% in 2019. As we have seen many times, it helps to be a ground ball pitcher in the home run haven that is Camden Yards.

With Tanner Scott currently on the 10-day IL [3], Paul Fry is the only certain left-handed option in the bullpen, as both Keegan Akin and Alexander Wells are in and out of the rotation. Abad obviously would not be the most exciting call up from Norfolk. However, with Fry showing signs of fatigue and the lack of a consistent arm out of the bullpen, a veteran relief pitcher with years of major league experience would be a welcome add to the big league club, even if just to eat up some innings.


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