That’s right I said it. Baltimore Orioles setup man Pedro Strop has been looking a lot like former Orioles closer and setup man Armando Benitez. Does this scare you as much as it scares me?
Don’t get me wrong, Strop has been a fantastic pickup and surprise for the Orioles since being acquired last season. Strop has come in and become one of the Orioles best bullpen arms. He has been a major reason why the Orioles bullpen has been as great as it has been this season. For most of the season, the Orioles could rely on Strop and closer Jim Johnson to hold leads from the 8th inning on.
Strop’s ERA was below 2.00 every month until August when it jumped to 4.09. In September, Strop’s ERA stands at 6.75 as of Friday. There are a number of different theories as to why Strop’s performance has dipped so badly. The main theory seems to be Strop is tired. This certainly could be the case. It also could be a bit mental. Once Strop started struggling against the New York Yankees he seemed to get flustered. He hasn’t been responding well to failure. Whatever the problem is, Strop and the Orioles need to figure out the answer soon.
It goes without saying, Strop is a major part of the Orioles bullpen. Although I feel Jake Arrieta and possibly even Tommy Hunter could step in and replace Strop, it’s no guarantee. At this time of year, the Orioles can’t afford to be experimenting with their setup men.
As I continue to watch Strop struggle, I think back to the days of Benitez. There was a time when the Orioles were in a similar position as they are in now. They were a winning team with a great bullpen. They also had a reliever with electric stuff and great numbers. However, this reliever couldn’t be relied on. Benitez and Strop are very similar. Both pitchers are passionate flame throwers with electric stuff. They also tend to have issues with command and can come unraveled.
I’m not afraid to admit it. I have nightmares of Benitez. As an Orioles fan he always made me nervous. You never knew when he would come in and look dominating or come unhinged. Strop is starting to look eerily similar to Benitez. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, because Strop has been huge for the Orioles this year, but every time he comes into the game now I’m nervous.
Buck Showalter and the Orioles need to figure out what is going on with Strop and quick. Otherwise, Orioles fans may start having Strop nightmares.