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Bullpen depth a source of strength for Orioles

With talented stable of relievers including Brach, Givens, O'Day, club built to withstand absence of Britton
MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- The good news is the Orioles' relief corps has been here before. Yes, it's not ideal to lose All-Star closer Zach Britton for some -- if not all -- of the first half of the 2018 season, but not many bullpens could withstand that kind of loss. The O's relievers can.

A group that includes Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Darren O'Day and Richard Bleier were excellent last year when Britton was on the disabled list and will be heavily counted on again in 2018. With no rotation upgrades so far this winter (the Orioles currently have just two starters penciled in), the bullpen looks poised again to be tasked with picking up a fair share of innings.

BALTIMORE -- The good news is the Orioles' relief corps has been here before. Yes, it's not ideal to lose All-Star closer Zach Britton for some -- if not all -- of the first half of the 2018 season, but not many bullpens could withstand that kind of loss. The O's relievers can.

A group that includes Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Darren O'Day and Richard Bleier were excellent last year when Britton was on the disabled list and will be heavily counted on again in 2018. With no rotation upgrades so far this winter (the Orioles currently have just two starters penciled in), the bullpen looks poised again to be tasked with picking up a fair share of innings.

O's bullpen looks to step up

There should also be some healthy competition for the remaining spots in camp. Miguel Castro, Mike Wright and Gabriel Ynoa are all relief options if they don't make the rotation, with the latter two out of options this spring. Donnie Hart could make it to give them another lefty option, and the club's three Rule 5 Draft picks are always arms to watch.

Video: Givens looks forward to his increased role in bullpen

Baltimore's picks included left-hander Nestor Cortes from the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate, righty Pedro Araujo from the Cubs' Triple-A roster and righty Jose Mesa, who was on the Yankees' Double-A roster. Cortes seems to be the most capable of the three right now, but a lot can change during camp.

Though manager Buck Showalter won't publicly commit to a closer without Britton -- who sustained a right Achilles injury in an offseason workout right before Christmas -- Brach seems like the logical fit to get the lion's share of opportunities. Givens is also an option and Showalter told reporters at the team's mini-camp earlier this month that he felt confident using both O'Day and Bleier as well.

Brach went 4-5 with a 3.18 ERA in 67 games (68 innings) in 2017. The 31-year-old allowed 51 hits, 27 runs (24 earned) with 26 walks and 70 strikeouts. He also tallied 18 saves.

O'Day recorded two saves last season, going 2-3 with a 3.43 ERA in 64 games. Over 60 1/3 innings pitched, the righty allowed 41 hits, 24 runs (23 earned) and struck out 76 against 24 walks.

Givens, the youngest of the group at 27, went an impressive 8-1 with a 2.75 ERA in 69 games. Over 78 2/3 innings, he allowed 24 earned runs and struck out 88, with 24 walks.

Bleier was a pleasant surprise last season, as the 30-year-old went 2-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 57 games. Over 63 1/3 innings pitched, Bleier allowed 23 runs (only 14 earned) and struck out 26 with 13 walks.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Baltimore Orioles, Brad Brach, Zach Britton, Mychal Givens, Darren O'Day