Remember Baltimore Orioles set-up man Pedro Strop? He was a big part of the success of the Orioles bullpen this season.
Strop finished the 2012 season pitching in 70 games (66.1 innings), which is far more than his previous high of 23 games (22 innings) in 2011. Strop finished 2012 with a 2.44 ERA in what should be considered a highly successful season. The Orioles should pencil in Strop as their set-up man for next season. However, the Orioles need to figure out if they can trust Strop right now.
Strop struggled mightily down the stretch. So much so that manager Buck Showalter clearly no longer trusts using Strop in tight situations. You can’t blame Showalter, he is making the right move. Strop was given multiple opportunities to get out of his funk down the stretch and he continued to struggle. Whatever the reason for his decline (most likely Strop has worn down), the Orioles can’t afford to trust Strop right now.
Add in the fact that Strop looked especially rattled while pitching at Yankee Stadium in September and you can understand why Showalter isn’t going to Strop late in games. One alarming statistic: In May, batters were hitting .140 off of Strop, while in September and October batters were hitting .333. Add in that Strop has control issues and you have a recipe for disaster.
Don’t blame Strop for his late season struggles. He gave the Orioles a great season overall and he helped make the bullpen what it was for the first five months of the season. Unfortunately the Orioles just can’t rely on Strop anymore this season.
The only way Orioles fans will see Strop in another game this season is if the Orioles have a big lead. Knowing the Orioles and the way they like to win games, I wouldn’t count on seeing Strop again this season.