Baltimore Orioles: Should Jorge Lopez be a reliever?

Win or lose, Jorge Lopez did a valuable service for the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon in Minnesota. He pitched six innings in this afternoon’s game. That saved the Oriole bullpen, which as we know has already been over-worked. He also pitched to a quality start. Lopez’s line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 3 K.

Lopez was given the lead early when Trey Mancini smacked a solo homer in the first inning. And that lead stood up for the Orioles over some time. Lopez pitched a solid outing, and mowed hitters down over a long period of time. Until he couldn’t do it anymore.

With two on in the sixth, Cano smacked a three-run home run. That gave Minnesota a 3-1 lead. Maikel Franco would get the O’s back on the board with an RBI-double in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough. And the Orioles fell to their ninth straight loss

Predictably, Minnesota got through to Lopez on his third time through the order. He’s had a real issue pitching the third time through. He’s been fairly solid on the first and second times through the order, but it’s the third time that’s got him.

So should Lopez be a reliever instead of a starter? That would avoid him going through the order three times. Another option might be an “opener.” In that role he might or might not go through the order once. But at the very least he wouldn’t see the entire order, and thus would’t see it three times through.

Here’s another point; did Brandon Hyde wait too long to lift him? Lopez was obviously tiring in that sixth inning. And this is part of having a tired bullpen – you find yourself in these sorts of dilemma’s. The result suggests that Hyde did wait too long. But who knows how true that is. Again, all of this is the result of the bullpen having to be over-taxed.

And the good news is that while they lost their ninth straight game and while Lopez got tagged with the loss, he saved the bullpen some innings this afternoon. He acted as an innings-eater, which is one of the reasons he’s on this team. But the O’s need to keep in mind moving forward that the third time through the order things are different.

The O’s now head to Chicago for four games with the ChiSox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Bruce Zimmermann gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Chicago’s Dylan Cease. Game time is set for just after 8 PM.

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