This issue is really bothering me.
The possibility of right-handed flamethrower Pedro Strop not ending up in the Opening Day bullpen for the Baltimore Orioles should he pitch well this spring is just wrong.
After being acquired from the Texas Rangers late last season, Strop proved himself to be a more-than reliable late-inning arm for manager Buck Showalter. Over 12.1 innings pitched, he posted a 0.73 ERA while giving up only eight hits, one earned run and striking out 12. He even threw two wins into the equation.
If he pitches even relatively close to that this spring, he has more than earned his roster spot with the parent club. Plain and simple.
The Rangers themselves were high on this kid but just couldn't find a roster spot for him on a consistent enough basis to keep him in the majors.
But for some reason, I've already read that he's facing an uphill climb to make the team.
For what good reason?
The kid has electric stuff. We've all seen it. And because he doesn't have any more minor league options left, do you really think he'd be able to pass through waivers unclaimed?
No, the O's would lose him if he were sent to the minors. It just doesn't make sense.
The Orioles historically have a rough time creating a solid bullpen. And really, the only reliable arm in there right now is closer Jim Johnson.
Could you imagine how shut-down the Birds would be in the eighth and ninth innings, having Strop set up for Johnson? Of course, they'd have to hand those two a lead, but that's a different story for a different article.
And if the Orioles can't make room for Strop because they have a veteran (who hasn't pitched as well as Strop) blocking him, such as Kevin Gregg, then trade that veteran for a bucket of balls and some sunflower seeds. Honestly, it doesn't matter what you get in return for said veteran, because the virtual return would be the addition of a solid late-inning bullpen arm.
It's really not that hard of a situation to figure out, yet the O's are having to think long and hard about this one for whatever reason.
For the record, in his one appearance this spring thus far, Strop allowed one run on two hits but struck out the side and recorded the save. Not bad at all for getting the ball for the first time in spring training.
There you have it. It's that plain and simple. The O's need to find a way to hang on to this kid, unless he proves during the regular season that he isn't fit to be an MLB pitcher, at least not yet.
And honestly, I don't see that happening.
Update: After this article was published, Strop made his second spring appearance, going one inning. He allowed no hits or runs while striking out one and giving up one walk.