O's bullpen poised to improve on strong '15

O's bullpen poised to improve on strong '15

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles' bullpen, a bright spot last season, could be even better in 2016.

The O's re-signed All-Star setup man Darren O'Day to a four-year deal earlier this offseason and return All-Star closer Zach Britton, giving them a formidable back end of the 'pen that could take some pressure off the rotation having to go deep into games.

Hot Stove Tracker

Mychal Givens, coming off a fantastic rookie year in which he showed signs of brilliance, could move into more of a late-inning role. The converted shortstop, who reaches the mid- to upper-90s with a difficult arm angle to pick up, made his Major League debut in June and pitched to a 1.80 ERA in 22 games.

Givens and fellow right-hander Brad Brach -- who went 5-3 with a 2.72 ERA -- would be solid sixth- and seventh-inning guys for manager Buck Showalter to have at his disposal. Brach appeared in 62 games, pitching 79 1/3 innings, and he gave up 24 earned runs on 57 hits and 38 walks, with 89 strikeouts.

Lefty Brian Matusz, who the Orioles could stretch out as a starter again this spring, figures to be the club's late-inning lefty. He was used both situationally and for full innings last year. Along with Matusz, the O's have lefty T.J. McFarland, a former Rule 5 Draft pick who still has Minor League options remaining.

Because the Orioles were able to keep reliever Jason Garcia -- last year's Rule 5 Draft pick -- on their roster in 2015, and because Garcia has options remaining, they can shuttle him to and from the Minors in 2016. Other young arms who could rotate between Triple-A and the Majors to help the bullpen include Mike Wright, Oliver Drake and Tyler Wilson, with Wright and Wilson also expected to compete for rotation spots this spring.

Right-hander Chaz Roe had a nice start to 2015 before he was slowed by injury, finishing the season 4-2 with a 4.14 ERA in 36 games. The Orioles, like pretty much every other club in baseball, should have some competition for the last spot or two in the 'pen -- with roster and non-roster invitees in camp -- though there's another wild card for Baltimore: second-ranked prospect Dylan Bundy.

Bundy, who was added to the 40-man roster as part of his contract when he signed, is out of Minor League options. That means he has to make the Orioles' Opening Day roster (if healthy) or risk being claimed by another team. Bundy, who was shut down from the Arizona Fall League with a strained right forearm, will be one of the major storylines this spring -- and before that, he will pitch in next week's minicamp. The righty, still just 23 years old, has been hampered by setbacks since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.