Arrieta's elbow could force O's to reshuffle rotation

Eight days until Jake Arrieta visits orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum and finds out whether he's headed to the disabled list with a fibrous mass in his throwing elbow. If he needs surgery, it's bye-bye Arrieta until 2012.

Eight days for Buck Showalter to contemplate - for the millionth time this season - how he's going to piece together a rotation. Should I call Showalter and let him know I throw a pretty wicked knuckle ball?

It's bad when, daily, my MASN co-workers and I go through a list of "who's available" to pitch the next day - and we're not talking about the bullpen.

Over the first seven games of the O's current 10-game road trip, Orioles starters have pitched 29 2/3 innings and have posted a 7.58 ERA. The bullpen has pitched almost as many innings (28 1/3) with a 2.54 ERA. That's a ridiculous stat.

Showalter told reporters Tuesday that Jeremy Guthrie will start against the Royals on Wednesday and Zach Britton will toe the rubber on Thursday. Britton has experienced the worst fall-off of any of the active O's pitchers this year. Heading into June he had a 2.93 ERA and hadn't gone less than 5 1/3 innings in his first 11 starts. People were talking Rookie of the Year candidate.

Over his last two starts, he's pitched a total of one inning and has given up 13 earned runs. The rookie admitted it's a confidence issue right now.

This Friday against the Blue Jays, the newly acquired right-hander Tommy Hunter is expected to get the start baring use out of the bullpen in Kansas City. Hunter won 13 games for the Rangers in 2010. Texas moved him to the bullpen this year after starting the season on the disabled list. In his absence, two young Ranger hurlers, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison, beat him out of a starting job.

I remember seeing Hunter pitch against the O's last year, and think he could be a good shot in the arm for this rotation. He's made it clear, he came up through the Rangers system as a starter and wants to get the ball every fifth day.

Trading Koji Uehara for Hunter and Chris Davis was a good move for the O's.

One Major League Baseball scout told me Hunter's best attribute is his ability to throw strikes. He works fast and has good command of his fastball and cutter. Also, the scout said he kept hitters off balance by getting his curveball over early in the count.

We'll take it.

Some are wondering why the O's don't see Jo-Jo Reyes, who they acquired off of waivers from the Blue Jays, as a starter. The lefty made 20 starts for the Jays this year.

Here's a quick answer for you: Reyes hasn't been very good. He's 5-8 with a 5.40 ERA this season. Oh, and by the way, his career numbers as a starter are worse (10-23, 6.04 ERA).

Showalter hasn't eliminated the idea of using Reyes in the rotation down the road. With those numbers, you have to imagine he won't want to, but as has been the theme in 2011 - sometimes you have to use what you have.

If Arrieta goes on the DL, the reality for the Orioles is - that won't be a whole lot.