The Orioles’ decision to option starting pitcher Dean Kremer to the alternate site in Bowie was not a reflection of his performance.
The right-hander was sent down April 17 about an hour after his best outing of the young season when he allowed just one run in 4.2 innings against the Texas Rangers.
“We think highly of him,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He is going to make a lot of starts for us the rest of the year.”
Kremer’s latest performance coincided with a better mix of his pitches, throwing 50 fastballs and 21 curves as opposed to relying so much on his cutter (4) and changeup (4).
“Coming up through the minors, that was my bread and butter and started to get away from it,” Kremer said of his curve. “So, I’m glad to see it’s coming back.”
In his previous two starts, Kremer struggled with his command and lasted only three innings in each of those appearances.
In a 7-2 loss to the Yankees April 6, Kremer allowed three runs and five hits with five strikeouts and four walks. He threw 85 pitches — 34 four-seam fastballs, 31 cutters, 17 curves and 3 changeups. Kremer was also hit in the back of the leg with a line drive, but he said that didn’t affect his performance.
“It got me in the meat,” Kremer said. “It tightened up pretty quick, but then as I continued to move around, it kind of loosened up and mentally it was just, ‘All right, I’m fine, let’s keep going.'”
Kremer had similar challenges in his second start that ended in a 7-6 loss to the Mariners. He allowed four runs and four hits with three strikeouts and a walk. He threw just 54 pitches — 32 four-seam fastballs, 11 cutters, 7 curves and 7 changeups.
Kremer then made the necessary adjustments going into the game against the Rangers and it paid dividends.
“I think what happens with guys with cutters, they can rely on it almost too much,” Hyde said. “And Dean’s got such a good curveball … he’s got a low- to mid-90s fastball and a curveball that comes out of the same lane. And he has shown flashes of having a really good one. I just want him to trust it more. Because I think it’s a plus pitch.”
Kremer is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA and 1.88 WHIP in three starts this season. When he was sent down to Bowie following his last start, there were some questions regarding the decision. He was showing progress, so why take him away from the major-league club?
However, the Orioles plan to go with a four-man rotation in the near term because of off days on April 19 and 22. The club recalled right-hander Cole Sulser April 18 to add a fresh arm to the bullpen.
The decision was based on the short-term schedule, not the way Kremer pitched.
“We’re going with four starters in this unique stretch where we have two off days in a week,” manager Bradon Hyde said. “Hopefully it’s just a short amount of time before we get Dean back in the rotation. That’s how we explained it to him. And he was a pro, he took it well. He knows that we think highly of him and he’s going to make a lot of starts for us the rest of the year.”
The Orioles still have confidence in Kremer, and he’s expected to get back into the rotation once the team gets through this week. In the meantime, Hyde expects Kremer to focus on mixing his pitches and having more confidence in his curve.
“I’d just like him to continue to get major league experience and continue to work on command,” Hyde said. “It’s not about his stuff. It’s about being able to work ahead in the count, not make mistakes in bad spots, things that you learn as you’re up here. Just continue to do what he’s doing.”
Harvey On The Mend
Reliever Hunter Harvey has yet to pitch in the regular season in 2021 because of an oblique strain. However, he is progressing and has begun playing catch and is progressing well, according to Hyde. However, there is no specific timetable for his return.
Last year, Harvey was limited to 8.2 innings during the shortened season because of muscular tightness in his right elbow. He still managed six strikeouts and a 1.15 WHIP.
He continues to be hampered by injuries.
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