Orioles reliever Mychal Givens turned in his fourth straight rough outing Sunday in Colorado, where he walked two of the three batters he faced en route to a blown save. In light of Givens’ issues over the past few days, the Orioles are planning on using him in lower-leverage situations for the time being, manager Brandon Hyde told Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com and other reporters Monday. Hyde did not name a game-ending replacement for Givens.
Givens’ ERA sat at a solid 2.75 on May 17, when he posted his sixth straight scoreless outing. But the number’s now up to 5.56 after a nightmarish stretch in which Givens surrendered eight earned runs on seven hits, including three home runs, and six walks in a mere three innings. Baltimore lost all four of those games, during which Givens suffered a whopping three defeats and recorded a pair of blown saves.
The Orioles are in a rebuild and on pace to finish last in the majors for the second year in a row. As such, it doesn’t really matter who closes for the team. However, it is important for Givens to get back on track. On a club that doesn’t have many trade chips, Givens entered the season as someone who could net the O’s a decent package in a deal.
Cognizant of Givens’ value, the Orioles were reportedly listening to offers for the 29-year-old exactly one month ago. It wouldn’t have been surprising if he generated plenty of interest. After all, the right-hander combined for a 3.12 ERA/3.18 FIP with 10.42 K/9 and 3.36 BB/9 in 260 innings from 2015-18, totaling upward of 70 frames in each of the previous three years. He’s also cheap this season ($2.15MM salary) and under arbitration control through 2021.
Unfortunately for the Orioles and Givens, walks and home runs have plagued him across 22 2/3 innings in 2019. Givens’ BB/9 sits at 5.16 and his HR-to-fly ball rate is a bloated 25 percent. For comparison, he gave up HRs on a meager 8.4 percent of fly balls during his first four seasons. The uptick in dingers has come in spite of a career-best 46.4 percent groundball rate – a marked increase over his usual high-30s mark. Givens is also running personal-best swinging-strike and contact rates (14.4 percent, 69.6 percent), and his expected weighted on-base average against (.306) indicates there has been some poor fortune behind the .354 real wOBA hitters have mustered against him.
While Givens’ season hasn’t been devoid of encouraging signs, it’s obvious he’s going to have overcome his newfound control and gopher ball troubles in order to approach his previous levels. It doesn’t seem Hyde is pushing the panic button, as he said (via Melewski), “I think it’s just a command a confidence issue,” and added the Orioles “need Mike bad.”