NEW YORK – The Orioles will consider it a win if they reach a point in their season where the rotation isn’t a daily topic of conversation and ripe with intrigue.
Who’s out, who’s in, who’s hurt.
The highly anticipated and loudly demanded arrivals of prospects Kyle Bradish, Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall will prevent the rotation from becoming stagnant, especially with the Orioles spreading out their debuts rather than delivering them in a cluster. Bradish should be the first to reach the majors, with Rodriguez behind him and Hall third.
The equation isn’t complicated.
Bradish is 25 and has made 24 career appearances in Triple-A. Rodriguez is 22 and has made four.
Hall, 23, was limited to seven starts last summer at Double-A Bowie due to a stress reaction his left elbow, was kept back at extended spring training and just reported to high Single-A Aberdeen as part of his innings progression.
This is where the order is derived. It’s quite simple.
The club should be in a peaceful rotation period right now, but John Means is undergoing ligament-reconstructive surgery today on his left elbow. Chris Ellis was placed on the 10-day injured list yesterday with right shoulder inflammation, and manager Brandon Hyde doesn’t know how long it’s going to last.
Ten days is the minimum. Ellis could be gone for a while, depending on what’s causing the inflammation.
This isn’t a new ailment for Ellis. He went on the IL last September with the exact same injury.
I’m old enough to remember when the biggest media obsession was the identity of the fifth starter.
Spenser Watkins is holding onto the job. But who’s following him in the rotation?
The Orioles recalled Alexander Wells yesterday and he felt like the favorite, at least for a turn, but he threw 34 pitches last night to cover the last 1 2/3 innings. Bullpen usage might have ruined his candidacy.
Wells warmed earlier but sat down and wouldn’t have budged if Bryan Baker kept cruising or Paul Fry stranded his inherited runners. Dillon Tate was up as the Orioles got within two runs.
We also learned yesterday that Major League Baseball is allowing teams to carry 14 pitchers from May 2-29 when rosters are reduced to 26 players. The original rule was 13.
Hyde approves the change.
Fourteen makes a lot more sense after a short spring training. Then again, going from 30 players to 28 makes more sense than 28 to 26.
We also found out that every team passed on outfielder DJ Stewart, who cleared waivers and was assigned to Norfolk.
I thought he might get claimed based on his status as a former first-round draft pick and being a left-handed bat with some power. The universal designated hitter creates more jobs for players like him.
The complication now is the same as the period after the Orioles optioned Stewart. They have younger outfielders who require regular starts, including Kyle Stowers, Robert Neustrom, Johnny Rizer and Yusniel Diaz after he returns from the injured list. Tyler Nevin needs reps in the outfield.
There’s only so much rotating to be done in the DH spot.
Anthony Santander had 66 plate appearances between his two home runs, but he also drew his 14th walk last night to leave him nine behind last year’s total.
Contacts? New glasses?
He smiled at the latter reference, remembering his new look in Oakland.
“Just working really hard to understand that they’re not going to pitch me in the middle of the zone anymore, that they’re going to try to pitch around the zone,” Santander said last night through interpreter Brandon Quinones.
“For me, it’s just focusing on waiting for my pitch and letting it rip once I get it.”
Santander has reached base in all 17 games this season to run his overall streak to 18.
“Working hard every single day that I come here, focusing on my routine, staying consistent, getting here early so I can make sure I do everything I’m supposed to,” he said.
“It’s great getting on base as much as possible. Obviously, it’s the best way to score runs and win ballgames.”