The Baltimore Orioles saw their 2016 season come to an end in the bottom of the eleventh inning when Edwin Encarnacion belted a walk off three-run home run.
The bullpen for the Orioles worked 6 of the 11 innings and in spite of the workload the bullpen had, Zach Britton the team’s closer did not make an appearance. Britton this season was the most dominant closer in both leagues.
The Orioles closer warmed up on three occasions Tuesday night, but manager Buck Showalter did not summon him to the mound.
That in turn caused a huge amount of speculation on social media that Britton was hurt.
Showalter called on Brian Duensing and Ubaldo Jimenez, which added to the speculation of Britton being hurt.
However, following the game Showalter said Britton was fine and was available if needed. Those comments eliminated some of the speculation of Britton being hurt, but in turn made fans puzzled.
Showalter is known for being one of baseball’s top bullpen tacticians making it all the more puzzling why he did not go to his closer at some point, especially during the eleventh in an attempt to quell any rally the Blue Jays were putting together.
During the regular season, Britton was not held to a rigid regime of when he pitched or did not. He pitched as early as the eighth inning on eleven occasions and even pitched during extra innings four times.
Seven times, he entered games when they were tied. Almost 30% of his overall innings pitched came during situations that were non-save appearances.
Rest was not an issue either, as he had not pitched for five days.
Showalter insisted he was pleased with how his pitchers had kept the team in the game through 10 innings and the situation was not right to bring on Britton.
He said he went to Jimenez, a starter, in the 11th because he has pitched so well this season.
Those decisions alone are what many will say cost the Orioles a possible win and ended their season prematurely.
Toronto on the other hand moves on to Texas to face the Rangers in the division series. The rivalry between these two teams has heated up of late and will be on full display during the upcoming best of seven series.