Oliver Drake entered the 2016 season coming off an impressive campaign in which he saw time with both Triple-A Norfolk and Baltimore. He began the 2016 season with Norfolk and picked up where he'd left off. In 56.1 innings of relief, the 29-year-old posted a 2.72 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. While both of these figures are very solid, it was his 34.2 percent strikeout rate that signals the value he's capable of providing in a big league bullpen. The Orioles recognized the value and promoted him on multiple occasions to work out of their elite bullpen. He put together a 4.00 ERA, 28.4 percent strikeout rate and 9.5 percent walk rate in 10 big-league innings. Drake's ceiling is ultimately limited due to his relatively old age, but it would not be surprising if he continued to provide some effective innings in low-leverage situations for the Orioles as he shuttles between Triple-A and the majors.
Drake pitched one inning and allowed a run on one hit and one walk while striking out two Pirates on Saturday. It's been a rough spring for Drake. He entered Saturday's contest with the score deadlocked and wasted no time in aligning himself for the loss. Drake was bailed out in the bottom of the ninth when the O's scored two runs for the walkoff win. Unfortunately, the luck he enjoyed Saturday won't play a role in his future with the club. Through five Grapefruit League innings, Drake has surrender seven runs on nine hits while being lit up for a .375 BAA. With no minor league options remaining, it appears inevitable that Drake will be designated for assignment unless he makes a miraculous turnaround soon.
Drake is a candidate for one of the last two open spots in the O's bullpen for 2017, Rich Dubroff of Pressbox reports. Drake is out of options and the Orioles risk losing him to free agency if he doesn't make the team. This circumstance may actually help his chances for making the team, as he's a talented right-handed reliever that the organization doesn't want to lose. Drake struggled in June of 2016 and was sent to the minors, but showed great improvement upon being recalled. In his final ten appearances of his rookie campaign, the 30-year-old managed a 1.46 ERA with 15 strikeouts over 12.1 innings.
Drake was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday, Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun reports. Drake's last appearance with the club didn't finish so hot, but after allowing only two earned runs in his last seven appearances at Triple-A, the team decided he was ready for another shot. The 29-year-old is nothing more than middle-relief depth at this point.
Drake was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday. Drake had spent the entire season thus far at the Triple-A level, but he's been impressive there to the tune of a minuscule 2.03 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 26.2 innings. He'll serve as an additional option out of the Baltimore bullpen with Brian Duensing unavailable for the time being with an elbow injury.
Drake was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. Despite throwing 9.0 scoreless frames across nine appearances this spring, the Orioles sent Drake down to Norfolk on Thursday so that he can have a more prominent role in the Tides' bullpen. Given Drake's major league experience (13 appearances for Baltimore in 2015), he figures to be one of the first arms the Orioles call up if one of their current bullpen members struggles or gets injured. Still, Zach Britton and Darren O'Day have a strong hold on the fantasy relevant positions in the Orioles' bullpen, which limits Drake's potential value.