The Orioles are giving the ball to some more young pitchers and seeing positive results.
Left-handers Zac Lowther and Alexander Wells recently made starts for the team, while right-hander Mike Baumann was promoted from Triple-A Norfolk to initially throw out of the bullpen.
Their roles are fluid after all three pitched well this week. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde will continue to evaluate talent for next season and beyond.
“It’s always fun watching guys early in their career trying to figure things out,” Hyde said.
Lowther, 25, was recalled from Norfolk Sept. 6 and made the start that afternoon against Kansas City. He allowed one run and three hits with two strikeouts and two walks in six innings in his second major-league start.
It was Lowther’s first appearance in the majors since July 7. He pitched well enough to earn at least another start.
Prior to the outing against Kansas City, Lowther allowed 10 runs and 13 hits in 8.1 innings with the major-league club. He also missed several weeks with a left shoulder strain earlier this summer. He hopes he has pivoted in the right direction.
“I was able to clean up some mechanics recently, being able to attack some guys,” Lowther said. “The plan going forward we laid out was pretty good, I really liked it. I thought I executed well. The biggest thing, though, I go back to is mechanics and mentality. Early in the year I was feeling a little off, but recently had a rehab stint, so was able to work on a lot of things and kind of get myself back on track.”
Lowther has had several stints with the Orioles this season, but this is his first since returning from the left shoulder strain. In his previous stops in the big leagues, he had to make the adjustment from being a starting pitcher to throwing out of the bullpen.
Lowther envisions himself as a starter but is willing to do what’s needed for the benefit of the club.
“I just want to show them there was a reason I was put on this team, and just being able to kind of go out there and do everything that got me to this point and being able to execute going forward,” Lowther said. “The beginning of the season wasn’t exactly how I wanted it to go, from my standpoint, whether it be performance-based or health-based. So being able to finish this year strong is my main point, and being able to show them that this is what I’m here to offer.”
Wells, 24, made his fourth start of the season Sept. 7 in a 7-3 victory against Kansas City. He gave up two runs and five hits with two strikeouts and two walks in four innings. Wells pitched effectively at Norfolk this season, but prior to Sept. 7 had struggled to translate it to the big-league level.
He was happy to be reunited with Lowther and Baumann, his minor-league teammates.
“It’s good to see Zac and Mike pitching well, and it’s just like back in Bowie in 2019,” Wells said. “It’s good to be around them again and hopefully we can build off each other and go out and be competitive and put up some good numbers.”
Baumann, the team’s No. 10 prospect per MLB Pipeline, was promoted from Norfolk Sept. 7. He went 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 18 starts between the Tides, Double-A Bowie and Low-A Delmarva this season.
He made his major-league debut in the fifth inning against the Royals Sept. 7. Baumann retired 11 of the 14 batters he faced to pick up his first career win. His debut was a bright spot in a challenging season for the club.
Baumann, 25, became the ninth Oriole reliever in franchise history (since 1954) to earn the win in his major-league debut and the first since Alberto Castillo in April 2008. He is also the fourth Oriole in franchise history to not allow an earned run in at least 3.2 innings of relief in his big-league debut and the first since Dennis Martínez in September 1976.
“I didn’t really know what the moment would be like,” Baumann said. “There was a lot of adrenaline. Everything was just kind of a blur. Looking back on it, I don’t even know if I remember much of what happened on the mound. Just the feeling of walking off the field after hearing the fans, that was a cool moment. It was definitely something to remember.”
Hyde was impressed with the performance.
“He was absolutely outstanding,” Hyde said. “I loved the aggressiveness in the strike zone. I like how he attacked hitters. I thought his fastball had a ton of life to it. Had him scheduled for two-to-three innings tonight and he goes three-plus.”
“I thought he flashed some good secondary stuff, as well,” Hyde added. “A couple good sliders, a couple good curveballs to add in there. But I just liked his aggressiveness in the strike zone, and challenged hitters.”
Photo Credits: Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles