Orioles manager Dave Trembley has already told the media that he is closing games by committee, but with last night’s outing by relief pitcher Alfredo Simon, it’s hard to turn your back on the big right hander in that role.
Some might criticize Trembley for bringing Simon, fresh from AAA Norfolk, in to close a game against the defending World Champion Yankees. Talk about pressure. But with a three run lead, I couldn’t think of a better time to test Simon’s elbow, fresh off his Tommy John surgery in May of 2009.
I was particularly impressed with Simon’s stuff. The guy was hitting anywhere between 95-97 miles per hour on his fastball, which had a lot of movement by the way, on a cold night in Baltimore and his slider was biting pretty hard and catching guys off guard. Derek Jeter even chased one for strike three.
The knock on Simon, based on the box score, is going to be that he let two runs score in the 9th, but anyone that watched last night’s performance knows that he had one bad bounce on a ground ball hit to Cesar Izturis off the bat of Brett Gardener that scored one. Even Mark Teixeira’s RBI single could have been fielded by Brian Roberts or any more mobile second baseman than Ty Wigginton. You can’t ask for much more than potential ground ball outs from your bullpen, the guys behind him have to get the job done from there.
It’s a small sample size, I know, but I was impressed with the velocity of that fastball, its movement and of course the slider low and inside. Is it too early to start re-branding this bullpen? I don’t think so, especially with the Orioles bats finally starting to produce.
I like Simon closing with Jim Johnson in the set up role, Jason Berken with Koji Uehara in a few days for long inning relief, Will Ohman against lefties and situational roles for Cla Meredith.
The bottom line is that this club isn’t going to look how the Orioles expected it to in March, but I think this is their formula to start winning ball games.