Kevin Gregg’s latest ugly outing, in which he allowed three runs while recording one out, inflated his ERA to 12.27 and caused our own Matthew Pouliot to wonder how much longer the Orioles can possibly stick with the veteran right-hander.
Buck Showalter was asked exactly that by Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com and the manager replied:
I can’t sit here and say nonchalantly that there’s not something to it. But Kevin’s pitched in different roles in his career, I know Kevin and he just wants to contribute and do whatever, we’ve talked about this and I think you will see him get better as we go on.
Showalter is seemingly saying that because Gregg has been used as a closer in the past that’s causing him to struggle in a non-closer role, which is especially silly considering Gregg has always been mediocre regardless of his role and was never well suited for the closer job in the first place.
Gregg saved 20-plus games in five straight seasons prior to this year and in those five seasons he posted a 3.89 ERA with 4.7 walks per nine innings and a homer every 10 frames. That includes a 4.37 ERA and nearly as many walks (40) as strikeouts (53) in 60 innings last season, which along with the fact that Gregg is 34 years old provides a pretty simple explanation for his struggles.
Gregg was stripped of closing duties because he pitched poorly and now he’s pitching very poorly in a non-closer role. If not for his still being owed $6 million as part of a misguided two-year, $12 million deal the Orioles probably would have gotten rid of Gregg already.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.