Monday, April 26, 2004's Peter Gammons talks about the O's bullpen

Baltimore bullpen impressive
Granted, the Orioles lineup is deeper than it's been since they went wire-to-wire in first place in 1997. But behind an inexperienced starting rotation, the Baltimore bullpen has been magnificent with a 2.67 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 67 innings. Rodrigo Lopez (12 2/3 IP, 12 K), B.J. Ryan (10 2/3 IP, 15 K) and Buddy Groom (6 2/3 IP, 9 K) have not allowed a run, while Jorge Julio has allowed one in nine innings.

Significantly, Lee Mazzilli is using his relievers to face left- and right-handed batters, eschewing the one-batter matchups. "Lee's managing not just for today," says team vice president Mike Flanagan, "but for the next game. In a lot of cases, our left-handers get right-handed batters out easier than lefties. That whole concept has gotten out of whack."

Another intriguing thing about the Orioles is that Matt Riley, Kurt Ainsworth and Erik Bedard have already had Tommy John surgery. "If they take the necessary 18 months to come back, they usually are better," says Flanagan. "They take better care of themselves, they are more diligent, think more about pitching. Medical science is remarkable today. I asked our doctor how many surgeries I would have had if I were pitching today, and he told me, 'about four.' " Flanagan had none.