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Hunter Harvey could have chance at claiming Orioles closer job

With the Orioles bullpen disaster in 2019, a plan seems to be forming on how to handle in 2020.

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Hunter Harvey throws to the Washington Nationals during the eighth inning at Nationals Park. Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde dropped a major hint of how the Orioles bullpen could shape up ahead of the 2020 season. He gave Hunter Harvey a ringing endorsement as their potential closer after the disaster 2019 season of options out of the bullpen. What makes this more impressive is that we only saw Harvey for 6 1/3 innings last season, which spanned seven appearances. In those, he allowed one run on three hits while striking out 11, good for a K% of 42.3.

Harvey helps fill a need the Orioles lacked in 2019

I won’t blame you if you weren’t up to date on the latest happening of the Orioles in 2019, so let me give you a quick history lesson.

We’ve seen bad bullpens before but the Orioles were on a whole different level. The 1.73 HR/9 they allowed was by FAR the highest in the league. The Rockies, who play half of their games in Coors Field mind you, landed at 1.5 when the season ended. The Orioles allowed 126 home runs through 654 innings pitched. The home runs were the most in the league while innings pitched were ranked eighth. The Orioles also blew as many saves opportunities as they converted with 27 on both sides. As you can imagine, no team blew more save chances than actual saves but the Orioles came very, very close.

We don’t know what we’ll get out of Harvey but he can’t be any worse than what they endured in 2019. Before being called up to the majors, Harvey made stops in Double A and Triple A, combining to throw 75 23 innings, while allowing 42 runs on 76 hits with 83 strikeouts. Despite coming through the lower minors as a starter, the Orioles think he can be useful in the bullpen, a role that Harvey has said he’d be comfortable doing. With his electric stuff and potential elite strikeout potential, it helps fill one of the biggest needs in the Orioles bullpen.