For everyone out there who watched Wednesday’s loss to the Guardians with its particularly excruciating performance from the relief corps, there is some news that you may find welcome. The exact same set of Orioles relievers will not be who is there this weekend as the O’s play the Giants. The team announced on Friday that reliever Mychal Givens has been placed on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation, while lefty Bruce Zimmermann, the Baltimore native, has been recalled from Triple-A Norfolk.
In this one corresponding set of moves, the Orioles have solved two of the problems that existed within the bullpen. The first, unfortunately, was Givens, who since being activated from the knee injury that flared up in spring training has shown diminished velocity compared to last season and nearly nonexistent control of his pitches.
If not everything is right with Givens’s shoulder, what we’ve seen in his six games makes a lot more sense. We’ve also seen enough to know that he’s only a negative on the roster in that current form. Ever since the Orioles once placed Ubaldo Jiménez on the injured list and said he’d rolled his ankle when he stepped out of his car into a pothole in the player’s parking lot, I think about this when a player has a convenient injury. It’s an easy joke to make, though the reality is the player has to agree he’s injured.
Zimmermann’s arrival will hopefully address the fact that the Orioles did not have a true long man available in their bullpen. One of the other prongs of Wednesday’s mess was that Austin Voth, though he had some decent results while making 17 starts for the Orioles last year, does not seem to be up to the “chew through four or five innings” role this season - and even if he was, he threw 58 pitches on Wednesday and probably isn’t available for another day or two, so the O’s would still need some long relief insurance tonight.
The big league track record of Zimmermann up to this point does not exactly make this an exciting addition. He sits on a 5.65 career ERA in 145 innings across 37 games. At the big league level, he’s allowed a home run to 5.8% of all batters that he has faced. That’s bad. Triple-A Norfolk has been kinder to the 28-year-old this season, with Zimmermann at a 4.05 ERA in nine starts - crucially, with only three home runs allowed. Perhaps he’s tidied a little something up. If so, then he’s got something to offer to a playoff-contending Orioles team.