The Orioles are expected to bring up a reliever for the trip to Minnesota after tonight’s doubleheader sweep. The bullpen needs a fresh arm.
It won’t belong to Kevin Gausman.
Gausman was scheduled to start tonight for Triple-A Norfolk - yes, we’re past midnight - but an X-ray today revealed a strained intercostal muscle that could force him on the minor league disabled list.
Gausman, who’s 0-1 with a 2.53 ERA in five starts, would have been the likely choice without the injury.
Manager Buck Showalter mentioned a few possibilities, including Norfolk’s Preston Guilmet and Suk-min Yoon and Double-A Bowie’s Tim Berry - all on the 40-man roster. He also said a few non-roster pitchers were being discussed.
Guilmet has allowed two runs in 10 innings, with one walk and 12 strikeouts. He didn’t pitch last night for the Tides, but he doesn’t offer much length for a bullpen that needs a long man.
Brad Brach is on the 40-man roster and he’s struck out 26 batters in 13 innings at Norfolk. He threw 16 pitches last night, however, while working one inning.
The Orioles bullpen doesn’t offer much flexibility, as I’ve pointed out numerous times. Not enough guys with minor league options, which is problematic when the Orioles need to rev up the Triple-A shuttle.
Evan Meek has options and is vulnerable. He allowed one run and two hits, walked none and struck out 10 in nine spring innings, and didn’t permit a run in his first nine regular season appearances. However, he’s given up nine runs and 10 hits in 2 1/3 innings over his last four games.
Update: The Orioles just announced that they optioned Meek to Norfolk. A corresponding move will be announced later today.
Asked about the possibility of adding bullpen help, Showalter said, “We’re talking about it. Contemplating who and what. Gausman was scheduled to pitch tomorrow, but he’s got an injury right now and it looks like he’s going to be scratched from his start tomorrow. I was looking during the game at who had pitched in that game tonight and their history. We carry a card around with all the Double-A and Triple-A pitching, so there’s three or four options there if we need. And then you have to talk about how. We’ll see. I should know something in the next few minutes.”
The relievers did more than pull their weight tonight. They shouldered a tremendous burden while enabling the Orioles to move two games above .500 for the first time this season.
“Well, with the time off we’ve had... In fact, Darren (O’Day) said he felt better the second time around,” Showalter said. “We were in good shape tonight. We didn’t have any problems going into both games. Most of the time, guys actually feel a little bit better the second time out in those games. Each guy responds to it differently the next day.
“I’m real proud of everybody. The bullpen was outstanding in both games. Kind of messed up in a way because at 4-0, I was going to be able to maybe stay away from a lot of guys, and we got back in the game and then we had to kind of go for it. There were a lot of big outs pitched. Darren gave us more than could be expected.”
Chris Tillman managed to turn in 4 2/3 innings in Game 2 after throwing 49 pitches in the first frame.
“I know he’s real disappointed because Tilly’s going to be one of those guys who’s really going to benefit from getting on a schedule of five days, if this schedule ever lets up with all the challenges faced here,” Showalter said. “April and May we knew coming in were going to be a real challenge, getting any consistency. Sit around as long as we have the last three or four days and come out and swing the bats and make the pitches our guys made, I can’t tell you how hard that is.
“Very appropriate night for a T-shirt. I told you I liked our guys. You’d like to see them get in return what they should get. The game’s not always kind.”
Manny Machado went 0-for-5 in his debut, but he made a couple of impressive plays in the field.
“Manny saved us two or three runs tonight defensively,” Showalter said. “He’s real close. That will come and I think what we missed as much as anything is the stability he gave us in the infield. I kept asking him after about the sixth inning how he felt and he finally gave me that look like, ‘Don’t ask me anymore.’ “
Showalter wanted to get all of his relievers into the doubleheader after three straight days off - two of them due to rain - but not under these circumstances.
Nothing comes easily.
“We talked about it before,” he said. “I was hoping it would happen like it did tonight, but we took everybody about the extent that we could take them. We’ll let the smoke clear and see where we are. Our guys are getting pretty experienced at having breakfast before they go to bed.”