Zach Britton allowed only two runs over seven innings yesterday in Chicago. Wei-Yin Chen tossed seven scoreless innings yesterday and retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced in his second and last injury-rehab start with Double-A Bowie.
Scott Feldman made his Orioles debut Wednesday night after being acquired from the Cubs and held the White Sox to two runs over six innings.
Chen is supposed to meet the Orioles in New York and be activated from the disabled list. His oblique injury is in the past.
In the present, his return gives the Orioles six starters, and manager Buck Showalter has given no indication that he's considering a six-man rotation.
So, what's next?
Feldman won't change roles. Executive vice president Dan Duquette made the trade to bolster the rotation, not the bullpen. Eliminate any and all thoughts about Feldman becoming a reliever.
Britton seemed the obvious choice to be optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, but he's allowed only seven runs over 23 innings in his four starts since being recalled.
I've heard suggestions from fans that Britton could go to the bullpen and Kevin Gausman could be optioned, but do the Orioles want four left-handed relievers?
It's also hard to imagine Hammel going to the bullpen despite his 5.19 ERA. It would be a bold move. It's not a role that the club has envisioned for him.
The Orioles want starting depth at Triple-A, and they'd certainly have it if Britton joined Jair Jurrjens, Freddy Garcia, Tsuyoshi Wada and Josh Stinson. And when Steve Johnson eventually comes off the disabled list. Or if Gausman is sent down.
That's a separate argument. The "Oriole Way" included having starters get their feet wet in the bullpen, but is Gausman better served taking the ball every fifth day in Norfolk's rotation?
Perhaps the Orioles end up making two roster moves, sending down Gausman and Britton and bringing up another reliever to take the spot previously filled by Pedro Strop. They can go in a variety of directions here. The good news is, Strop's departure provides flexibility. That spot can be occupied by a pitcher with options, allowing the Orioles to shuttle relievers whenever the bullpen is taxed.
The rotation debate is bound to come up later today when Showalter meets with reporters in the visiting dugout at Yankee Stadium.
Too many starters? Imagine such a thing.
We know that Gonzalez is taking the mound tonight after being pushed back a few days. In five career starts against the Yankees, including the postseason, he's 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA over 33 2/3 innings. That includes four quality starts.
Gonzalez is 2-1 with a 2.36 ERA in four starts in the Bronx.
Here's a leftover note from yesterday: According to STATS, Manny Machado's 46 doubles in his first 136 career games were tied for the most in the American League since 1921. Machado tied Lou Boudreau and recorded two more than Joe DiMaggio, three more than Dom DiMaggio and four more than Ted Williams.