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Tommy Hunter expected to take over closer role for Orioles

Feb 8, 2014, 10:04 AM EDT

Tommy Hunter Orioles Getty Images

Now that Fernando Rodney has reportedly agreed to a two-year, $14 million contract with the Mariners, Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com writes that Tommy Hunter is expected to take over the closer role for the Orioles.

Of course, that wasn’t the original plan. After the Orioles traded Jim Johnson to the Athletics in early December, they soon agreed to a two-year, $15 million deal with Grant Balfour. However, the signing was nixed due to concerns raised in a physical and Balfour eventually landed with the Rays. While the Orioles were linked to Rodney, they will now go in-house to replace Johnson.

Hunter was a full-time reliever for the first time last season, posting a 2.81 ERA and a 68/14 K/BB ratio over 86 1/3 innings. He also notched four saves. The 27-year-old right-hander has experienced a big velocity spike in the bullpen, though it hasn’t translated to an elite strikeout rate. Hunter doesn’t induce grounders like Johnson did and left-handed batters have been a trouble spot for him, so it might not be a smooth transition.

  1. proudlycanadian - Feb 8, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    Kevin Gregg is still available. I would love to see Gregg in a Baltimore uniform.

    • everon63 - Feb 8, 2014 at 12:19 PM

      Are you kidding, been there done that.

      • proudlycanadian - Feb 8, 2014 at 12:37 PM

        Of course I am kidding.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Feb 8, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      Id love to see Santana in a bluejay uniform, I got my fingers crossed but I just don’t think the jays are gonna open their purses this off season for anyone. Welcome to MLB welfare baby!

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Feb 8, 2014 at 6:36 PM

        http://i494.photobucket.com/albums/rr310/04MAXXXFreak/stfu1.jpg

        STOP!

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Feb 8, 2014 at 1:38 PM

      You and 28 other teams would love to see Gregg in Baltimore.

      • proudlycanadian - Feb 8, 2014 at 4:49 PM

        We can dream.

  2. skip44 - Feb 8, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    It wasn’t Buck or Dan’s plan to have Hunter close, just maybe ‘Angelo$’

    • plmathfoto - Feb 8, 2014 at 11:39 AM

      i’ve seen where they don’t feel he can pitch back to back games gonna be interesting

  3. everon63 - Feb 8, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    And we thought Jim Johnson was an adventure. ….

  4. yahmule - Feb 8, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    I’ll say left-handed batters have been a trouble spot for him.

    Career splits versus LHB:

    PA 1267, .294/.343/.500, OPS+ 119, K/BB 159/83, 59 HR

  5. stackzondeck - Feb 8, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    I don’t know what to say about these Orioles.

  6. rockthered1286 - Feb 8, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    Wait Jim Johnson induced grounders last year? I’d venture to say he had more line drive luck shots to position players than legit ground outs.

    I’d rather have Hunter than JJ anyway. Closers should have heat and not pitch to contact. I always knew if Tommy’s secondary pitches were off he at least had that stinky cheese to throw at them consistently. Now as for his ability to consistently do so… We shall see. Can’t imagine he’d be worse than JJ. Blown saves aside I’d say maybe 5 of his saves last year were three up three down and maybe half of his remaining saves included a runner on third usually from a walk followed by a hit. Hunter maybe give up a long ball here and there but he does not hae the consistency issues JJ had.

  7. thebirdsareback - Feb 10, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    This was the best move from the beginning if you ask me. I realize no one is asking me, But I am telling you facts right now. Tommy “BIG GAME” Hunter is gonna wow at the closer sport this year. I expect a very improved bullpen in Baltimore this season. I also expect the Orioles to much better then a lot of you experts on baseball seem to think. I guess “the core” isnt good enough for you guys

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