Givens picked up his first save of the season Saturday against the Rays, allowing one hit while striking out one batter across 1.2 innings.
Givens needed just 20 pitches -- 15 of which were strikes -- to record the last five outs of the game en route to his first career major-league save. Brad Brach recorded a four-out save Friday, so it's possible manager Buck Showalter turned to Givens to afford Brach a breather. Either way, despite his solid 3.32 ERA and 28:9 K:BB through 21.2 innings this season, he doesn't figure to see many save opportunities moving forward with Brach pitching well and Zach Britton (Achilles) and Darren O'Day (elbow) both hoping to return before the end of the month.
Givens has notched three strikeouts without allowing a run in 2.1 frames this season.
The Orioles entered the year with a committee approach in the ninth inning, but have not had a lead to protect since Brad Brach coughed up the lead on Opening Day. As Givens is seen as a long-term piece in Baltimore, was mentioned by manager Buck Showalter as an option for saves, and has pitched well this season, he is a worthwhile flyer for those looking for saves on the waiver wire.
Givens will split save opportunities with Brad Brach and Darren O'Day, Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun reports.
Brach was assumed to hold the closing role until Zach Britton returns, as he was the one called upon last year when Britton was out. It now appears that the team will go with a committee approach. Whether that lasts or a clear winner emerges remains to be seen, but even if Givens were to claim the job early in the season, he'd likely only hold it for two months until Britton returns. All three members of the committee are statistically very similar, making a winner hard to predict. Givens had the best ERA of the trio last season (2.75) though his FIP was the highest by a hair (3.72). He's also the youngest at 27 years old, so he's theoretically the most likely to take his game to the next level this season. He's worth a flyer at his price in case he wins the job, though he may only end up providing ratio help with just a small handful of saves.
Givens appears likely to be one of the primary setup options in the Baltimore bullpen to begin the season with Brad Brach expected to handle the closer role while Zach Britton (Achilles) is on the disabled list.
Even if he is not piling up saves, Givens has the strikeout upside and good ratios necessary to be an impact arm in some mixed leagues. Brach's strikeout rate dropped to a three-year low last season (25.5 percent), and Givens could be first in line to replace him as the temporary closer if manager Buck Showalter opts to make a change at some point between now and the time Britton returns, which won't occur until late May at the earliest.
Manager Buck Showalter said Tuesday that Givens is one of four relievers who could close games while Zach Britton (Achilles) is out, Rich Dubroff of PressBoxonline.com reports.
Givens will need to impress in spring training, particularly against left-handed hitters, in order to leap Brad Brach in the pecking order for saves while Britton is out (likely until late June). Darren O'Day and Richard Bleier were also mentioned by Showalter as potential options in the ninth inning, but Brach and Givens seem to be the clear top speculative plays in fantasy. The Orioles view Givens as a building block, and he is coming off his best season as a pro (2.75 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 88 strikeouts in 78.2 innings). However, Brach's success as the fill-in closer last season gives him a leg up entering spring training.
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