ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Orioles manager Brandon Hyde is confident that veteran starter Jordan Lyles can give the team significant innings, can be a workhorse on a staff that’s short on track records and projected to get younger as some of the top prospects are promoted over the summer.
Those innings will come gradually, however, after a shortened camp.
Lyles will get the same treatment today as John Means did last night, with Hyde adhering to a lower pitch count coming out of the gate.
“I’m looking forward to turning both of those guys loose,” Hyde said this morning. “Jordan’s in a similar boat. He made the same amount of starts as John. He’s going to be in the five-inning, 85-pitch range, and hopefully we continue to build both those guys to get to a normal number in the next start or two.
“We just don’t have any experience, really, in our pitching staff, and for a guy (Lyles) to have, I think yesterday was his 10th opening day, a guy that’s pitched on multiple teams, a guy who’s historically pitched a lot of innings, that’s going to be huge for us. A guy in our rotation who has pitched against major league lineups, a lot of different ones, and be able to navigate through … I think you saw the benefit of (Robinson) Chirinos yesterday with our inexperienced guys on the mound, really helping them through. So, I’m looking forward to having some veteran presence behind the plate, as well as on the mound.”
Matt Harvey could join the pitching staff and bring more experience after signing a minor league deal yesterday, but he’s got to build up innings and face hitters in Sarasota while waiting to learn whether he’s facing a suspension for his testimony in the Eric Kay trial.
“For me, Matt didn’t eat more innings because we didn’t really allow him to because of the defense we played behind him in a lot of his starts,” Hyde said. “Last year for me, Matt was first class, ultra pro, a great teammate, players loved him. The four days he wasn’t starting, he was in the dugout for nine innings. He was incredibly supportive, and I’m happy to have him back.
“I think he was a pro last year for us, and that’s what I’m going off of.”
Grayson Rodriguez, the top pitching prospect in the organization, made his Triple-A debut last night and tossed four scoreless innings with one hit allowed, one walk and seven strikeouts. He retired 10 batters in a row after a leadoff walk.
“I want to see all our minor league guys have success,” Hyde said. “It’s nice. I do follow our box scores, especially upper levels, and look at the game reports the next day. We want our prospects, especially, to perform and some guys are off to good starts, and that’s good to see.”
Cedric Mullins is the first Orioles batter to be hit by a pitch in the team’s initial at-bat on opening day since Brady Anderson was struck by the Royals’ Kevin Appier in 1997 at Camden Yards, and the third overall after Curt Blefary was hit by the Twins’ Jim Kaat in 1967 at Memorial Stadium. Mullins is the first player in team history to be struck by the first pitch on opening day, and the first in the majors since the White Sox’s Adam Eaton on April 4, 2016.
The Orioles also discovered that Mullins is the second batter in team history to be hit by the first pitch of a game, joining former outfielder Seth Smith, who was struck by the Red Sox’s Steven Wright on April 12, 2017 at Fenway Park.
For the Rays
Brandon Lowe 2B
Wander Franco SS
Ji-Man Choi 1B
Randy Arozarena DH
Josh Lowe LF
Francisco Mejía C
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Taylor Walls 3B
Brett Phillips RF
Drew Rasmussen RHP
And finally, thanks to the Orioles’ public relations staff for the following item in today’s game notes:
“Today marks the 5,000th consecutive day that Orioles writer Roch Kubatko has authored a blog entry for MASNSports.com ... Kubatko’s streak began August 1, 2008, and has spanned parts of 15 Orioles seasons ... Since Kubatko’s streak began, the Orioles have posted a 912-1,146 record in 2,058 regular season games, and have mashed 2,544 home runs, the third-most in MLB during that time ... The Birds have also made three Postseason appearances in that span (2012, 2014, and 2016) ... Congratulations, Roch!”