With all of our excitement surrounding the 2024 Orioles, a worry that has been on many of our thoughts for some time is the bullpen without Félix Bautista. Since The Mountain’s injury in August of last year and the realization that Tommy John surgery would keep him out of the 2024 season, O’s supporters have been concerned that the relief corps would find it much more difficult to maintain close leads without their shutdown weapon in the back of the “pen.”

For the first (and most definitely not the last) occasion this year, those fears were realized in a very tangible sense yesterday against the Pirates. In spite of a rally in the ninth inning to level the game in Pittsburgh, the Orioles lost a walkoff in the eleventh inning with Jonathan Heasley on the mound after Mike Baumann’s inconsistent play cost them a lead in the tenth.

Craig Kimbrel, Bautista’s replacement as closer, pitched a flawless ninth inning to send the game into extra innings. However, Kimbrel, like the majority of closers, isn’t able to accomplish what Bautista did numerous times during the previous season: shut out the opposition for multiple innings. We nearly take Bautista’s skill at that accomplishment for granted. Nine times in the previous year, Félix recorded four or more outs. Additionally, Bautista traveled the entire two innings in four different situations. In each of the four instances, he preserved a tie with a scoreless ninth inning then, after the O’s had taken the lead, ended the game with another scoreless inning. Having that in your bullpen is really beneficial, and yesterday, having a healthy Félix on hand.

By Fafa T

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