The Orioles have lockers set up for right-hander Josh Lucas and lefty Tanner Scott this morning, per MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko (all Twitter links), indicating that both have been brought up to the Major League roster. Lucas isn’t on the team’s 40-man roster, so his contract will be formally selected prior today’s 12:35 ET starting time. Baltimore already optioned Josh Rogers to Triple-A Norfolk following last night’s game, creating one vacancy on the 25-man roster, and the other will be created by placing lefty Richard Bleier on the injured list.
Lucas, 28, signed a minor league pact with the Orioles back in late November. His experience at the MLB level is limited, though he’s appeared in each of the past two big league seasons: with the Cardinals in 2017 and the Athletics in 2018. He’s tallied just 21 2/3 frames in that time, working to a 5.40 ERA with a 21-to-13 K/BB ratio and a promising 54.8 percent ground-ball rate.
Lucas doesn’t throw particularly hard, sitting 91-92 mph with his fastball, but he’s induced a solid 11.4 percent swinging-strike rate and a strong 33.8 percent chase rate on pitches out of the strike zone. He’ll come to the O’s with a nice Triple-A track record, having logged a 3.32 ERA with 8.9 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and above-average ground-ball tendencies.
Bleier, despite a lack of missed bats, was the Orioles’ most effective reliever from 2017-18. Through 4 1/3 innings this season, though, he’s already allowed as many runs (seven) as he did through 32 2/3 frames last year. Bleier’s 2019 season was cut short by a lat tear that required surgery, and it’s possible that he’s still dealing with some lingering effects from that procedure.
Prior to Opening Day, he’s totaled 119 innings in the Majors between the Yankees and O’s, pitching to an immaculate 1.97 ERA despite averaging 4.1 K/9. Bleier’s pristine control (1.6 BB/9) and knack for avoiding hard contact have helped him thrive to this point in his big league career. If he can get back on track between now and July, he’d stand out as a possible trade candidate; the late-blooming Bleier will turn 32 next week but has three years of team control remaining beyond 2019.
The 24-year-old Scott, meanwhile, is already on the 40-man roster after spending the bulk of the 2018 season with the Orioles. Last year, he logged a lackluster 5.40 ERA but did punched out 76 batters in just 53 1/3 innings of Major League relief. The flamethrower has averaged better than 97 mph on his heater at the MLB level with a gaudy 16.4 percent swinging-strike rate and 36.6 percent opponents’ chase rate on out-of-zone pitches. If Scott can rein in his control (4.7 BB/9), he has the makings of a quality late-inning reliever; fielding-independent pitching metrics are already quite bullish on him as it is (3.40 FIP, 2.96 xFIP, 3.18 SIERA in 2018).