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Orioles Targeting “High Leverage” Relievers at Trade Deadline

Already the best team in the American League, the Baltimore Orioles could get even better by trading for another “high leverage” reliever at the deadline. According to reports, the Orioles are looking to add another high-leverage reliever for the postseason amid Craig Kimbrel’s recent struggles. Kimbrel, who recently dealt with upper-back tightness, has failed to finish the ninth inning in four of his last five outings. The veteran closer had previously made 10 consecutive appearances without allowing an earned run.

Kimbrel has pitched back-to-back scoreless outings since being temporarily removed from his role as the Orioles closer. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde wants to get the future Hall of Famer going, calling his bullpen usage a “day-to-day thing.” Kimbrel (4-1) has pitched to a 4.11 ERA with 23 strikeouts over 15 ⅓ innings of work. His eight saves are tied for fourth in the American League and eighth in MLB.

Following Sunday’s series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Baltimore Orioles (26-13) boast the best record in the American League. The reigning American League East winners hold a half-game lead over the New York Yankees in the division.

Baltimore has the sixth-best bullpen in the American League, carrying a 3.26 ERA into Sunday’s contest. Over the past 11 games, the Orioles bullpen has a 1.40 ERA, allowing one or fewer runs 10 times. Baltimore has its sights set on a deep postseason run and is looking to add another arm to its bullpen. Should their teams become sellers, Baltimore has reportedly shown interest in Ryan Pressly (Houston Astros), Jordan Romano (Toronto Blue Jays), and Ryan Helsley (St. Louis Cardinals).

Orioles In the Market for Another “High Leverage” Reliever

Ryan Pressly

After being acquired in 2018, Ryan Pressly spent three of his seven seasons in Houston as the Astros’ primary closer. Pressly was shifted to a set-up role going into 2024 after Houston signed closer Josh Hader to a five-year deal. The 35-year-old got off to a rough start this season and boasts an inflated 5.65 ERA over 16 appearances. However, the right-hander may have turned a corner, giving up just one run in his past five outings. The two-time All-Star is in his final year of a two-year, $30-million contract with the Astros. He has a vesting option for 2025 that includes a $2-million buyout.

Jordan Romano

Coming off of his second-consecutive All-Star selection, Jordan Romano began the season on the injured list for the Blue Jays. The 31-year-old veteran closer had been sidelined since spring training with right elbow inflammation before being activated on April 16th. Romano has pitched to a 4.15 ERA earning six saves and striking out eight in nine appearances in 2024. He has a 19-15 record with a 2.72 ERA and 103 saves over his six-year career. Romano has one more year of club control after avoiding arbitration prior to the start of the season.

Ryan Helsley

Ryan Helsley was named the National League Reliever of the Month after recording 10 saves with a 1.69 ERA over 16 appearances in April. The 29-year-old has struggled with injuries and spent time on the injured list with elbow injuries in three consecutive seasons. Helsley has a 23-12 record with a 2.72 ERA and 46 saves over his six-year career. Like Romano, Helsley also comes with one more year of club control after he avoided arbitration earlier this year.

Orioles Still Committed to Closer Craig Kimbrel

Despite his struggles, Craig Kimbrel still has the confidence of his teammates and the Orioles coaching staff. Baltimore’s goal for the 35-year-old is to get him back to the “nasty” type of pitcher he was in April. Baltimore is not releasing the veteran closer one month into the season after signing him to a contract that guarantees $13 million, including the $1 million buyout in 2025. Kimbrel is working on his mechanics after experiencing upper-back tightness earlier this month. Baltimore has given their closers a reset in the past and is pitching Kimbrel in some lower-leverage opportunities until he regains his footing.

While Baltimore is confident that their future Hall of Fame closer can return to form, it’s a long season ahead. Having another high-leverage reliever in place, should one be available, is not a bad idea going into the postseason.


Photo Credit: The Enquirer/Kareem Elgazzar, The Cincinnati Enquirer, USA TODAY NETWORK


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