The Orioles apparently will close out their season this weekend with a new member in their rotation.
The Rays are listing Miguel Castro and Chris Archer as Saturday’s starters at Tropicana Field. Manager Buck Showalter hinted yesterday that Castro could get the ball despite earlier indications that the Orioles preferred to keep the young right-hander in the bullpen. Tampa Bay’s game notes provide confirmation.
Never say never with the Orioles, who also are starting Kevin Gausman on Sunday after indicating a few days ago that Tuesday’s outing against the Pirates would be his last in 2017.
Wade Miley will oppose Jake Odorizzi on Friday night. The Rays are starting left-hander Blake Snell opposite Gausman in the finale.
Castro will become the 11th pitcher to start for the Orioles this season. He joins Gausman (33), Miley (31), Dylan Bundy (28), Ubaldo Jiménez (25), Chris Tillman (19), Jeremy Hellickson (10), Alec Asher (six), Gabriel Ynoa (four), Jayson Aquino (two) and Tyler Wilson (one).
The Orioles used nine starters in 2016 and eight in 2015
Showalter also considered Mike Wright for Saturday night, but the right-hander worked three scoreless innings last night in Pittsburgh. Left-hander Tanner Scott was another pitcher on the board, but he stays in the bullpen.
Hellickson has been shut down with tightness in his back, though he probably was going to be skipped anyway.
Someone will need to piggyback Castro, who hasn’t thrown more than 69 pitches with the Orioles this season. He worked a career-high six scoreless innings on Aug. 3 against the Tigers, allowing only one hit, but hasn’t gone more than 3 2/3 in the 16 appearances that followed.
Castro hasn’t exceeded 44 pitches this month. He’s been scored upon in his last six outings, most recently on Friday against the Rays at Camden Yards, and his ERA has increased from 2.38 to 3.29.
Combined with his 24 1/3 innings at Double-A Bowie, Castro has logged a career-high 87 1/3 innings this season. It’s a significant jump from the 30 1/3 he totaled last year in the Rockies organization.
Showalter is curious to find how Castro responds to a start, however long it lasts. Today’s off-day provides rest for the bullpen and the Orioles may bring up another pitcher from their minicamp to fill Castro’s spot.
Castro, 22, was acquired from the Rockies on April 7 for a player to be named later who turned out to be minor league pitcher Jon Keller. He’s expected to compete for a job in the rotation in spring training, with Bundy and Gausman the only starters assured of returning.