Orioles manager Brandon Hyde gravitated to an unfamiliar reliever in 2020, and I never really understood why.
Watching Cole Sulser take the mound in high leverage situations gave me many a night with heartburn and indigestion. Then a 30-year-old rookie, Sulser was a nobody. There was no hype, no scout backing his potential. He was just a guy.
So when I watched Sulser get rocked outing after outing in 2020, I wondered exactly what kind of blackmail this veteran minor leaguer had over Hyde. I mean, Sulser registered a 5.56 ERA in 19 appearances, walking almost as many batters as he struck out. Sulser saved five games in 2020 but blew three other opportunities.
I even authored a column earlier this spring about Orioles reliever Tanner Scott, saying, “The days of Cole Sulser pitching the ninth need to come to a close.” I was just about done with the guy.
Good thing Sulser doesn’t listen to 26-year-old sportswriters.
Since being recalled to Baltimore on April 18, Sulser has dominated opposing hitters. He’s not just getting outs — he’s mowing down lineups with ease.
Through 12.2 innings, Sulser has allowed just two earned runs while striking out 20. His strikeout rate is up 23 percentage points from last season (42.6 from 19) and is among the league’s best.