The fuel for Baltimore's success

Updated: September 23, 2012, 2:36 PM ET
By Buster Olney

Buck Showalter will make his way around the field during batting practice before games, and while he'll talk to a lot of players along the way, his primary mission, he says, is to get a read on how his relievers are feeling, how their arms are feeling. He spends more time on bullpen management, he believes, than on any other element of his job.

Showalter has learned so much in these conversations through the years, pieces of information that he holds on to as managerial keepsakes. Like when Steve Farr and Steve Howe explained to him how difficult it is for a reliever to generate adrenaline by the third time he gets up in the bullpen during the game, and the toll it takes on a reliever to throw a lot of pitches warming up repeatedly.

The Baltimore Orioles are in contention in late September for the first time in 15 years, and a primary reason is how Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair have run their bullpen through a season of extraordinary stress. If Showalter wins American League Manager of the Year, this should be why.