When the Baltimore Orioles acquired Darren O’Day before the 2012 off season, they had no idea what they were getting…or, judging by how great of a job Dan Duquette has done, maybe they did.
Baltimore picked O’Day off of waivers after the 2011 season from the Texas Rangers, for whom he had played three seasons. During his time in Texas, O’Day posted, overall, a respectable 2.41 ERA. His 2011 5.40 ERA in 2011 might have led the Rangers to release him, but the O’s and Duquette know better.
Baltimore snagged O’Day before the 2012 season so they could have a side-arming righty in the bullpen to help bridge the gap to closer Jim Johnson. O’Day did his job well. During the 2012 season, he earned a record of 7-1 with an ERA of 2.28, appearing in 69 games. In his 67 innings of work, he struck out 69 batters while walking only 14; his walks plus hits per innings pitched was a remarkable 0.94.
The 2012 regular season was only the beginning for O’Day. As the Orioles made their way to the playoffs, Buck Showalter counted on him time and again to help the O’s advance.
O’Day helped Baltimore defeat his former Rangers as he threw two innings and allowed only one hit, advancing Baltimore to face the New York Yankees. During that series against New York, O’Day pitched in four of the five games, throwing five innings and not allowing a single hit while striking out four and walking only one.
In seven total playoff innings, O’Day gave up only one hit and no runs. In a time when he was needed to be just about perfect, he was just that.
This season O’Day is back at it again. Currently with a 2-0 record in relief for the O’s, his 1.83 ERA is second amongst Baltimore relievers to Tommy Hunter. So far, O’Day has pitched 19.2 innings and has struck out 20 hitters.
Baltimore is currently sitting in third place in the American League East and a half game back in the AL Wild-Card standings. If they expect to make it back to the playoffs in 2013, they will need O’Day to continue to set the table for Johnson and help get the O’s out of jams, like he did in 2012.
by Andy Mindzak