How much longer can Buck Showalter keep running Pedro Strop out of the bullpen? Today, it cost the Orioles a chance of their first sweep of the season. And boy, would that have been incredibly nice with the first place Boston Red Sox coming to town for a four-game series.
With two on and none out in the top of the seventh, Strop came in to protect a two-run lead. The result was remarkably predictable. Strop attempted to field a Hank Conger grounder, that turned into an infield single. Erick Aybar would clear the bases with a triple and give the Angels a 6-4 lead. Then, two batters later Albert Pujols would hit a two-run homer and end Strop’s outing.
For Pedro, this was the first real test he’s seen since returning from a DL stint with a strained back. We heard all about how pitching in the World Baseball Classic resulted in Strop’s ineffectiveness this season. The truth is, Strop hasn’t been an effective relief pitcher since July of last season. His command has always been an issue and remained so in August and September of 2012 and into April, May and June of this season.
I’m not sure why Showalter turned to Strop in a jam on Wednesday. Fans saw the Orioles lead vanishing from miles away. Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz, T.J. McFarland, Darren O’Day and Troy Patton didn’t work in Tuesday’s game. Matusz and McFarland had two games rest while McFarland and Patton had three.
We’ve seen Showalter show faith in his bullpen guys before. Remember Jim Johnson‘s struggles? Sticking with him resulted in four blown saves. Strop’s issues, however, date back much further than JJ’s did.