TORONTO – Bruce Zimmermann was one of the Orioles best rotation pitchers through mid-May with a 2.72 ERA. But when his ERA when up to 9.79 over his last six starts, the Orioles felt they need to make a change.
And today the local Baltimore pitcher was optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk and right-hander Mike Baumann was added to the Orioles roster for the series finale with Toronto.
Zimmermann allowed three long homers and six runs on 11 hits in 4 2/3 in last night’s loss in 10 innings at Rogers Centre. His changeup looked solid early in the outing but that didn’t hold up and he has now allowed 33 earned runs over 30 2/3 innings and 15 homers in his last six games since May 19. Opponents have an OPS against him of 1.176 in that span.
“Zimm’s had a handful of tough starts and we just feel like he needs to go down, kind of do a reset a little bit,” manager Brandon Hyde said today about the move. “Work on some things mechanically, work on some things from a command standpoint with some of his pitches. He got off to a really good start this year. It just hasn’t translated to some of these last starts. The best thing for him is to go down and kind of pitch in some lower pressure situations facing Triple-A lineups and hopefully we see him back here soon.
“He’s getting hurt on a lot of offspeed pitches that are catching too much plate in the thigh area where he is giving up homers. For me he’s got to be able to command his fastball a little bit better, especially with these right-handed dominanted lineups. … Be able to pitch both sides of the plate with his fastball and get the depth back with his changeup. That is something he is going to be working on.”
Zimmermann got a no-decision last night. For the year he is 2-5 with an ERA of 5.94 in 13 starts.
“He took it like a pro," Hyde said. "I think he’s frustrated with how he has pitched here the last month or so. But yeah, I didn’t sense anything out of the ordinary. I thought he took it well and he’s going to go down and work there like a pro."
The skipper said it’s too soon to know where the Orioles will go with Zimmermann’s rotation spot the next time it comes up.
“We do have an off day (on Monday) after the Tampa series. So, we could play with the rotation a little bit. Yeah, we’ll kind of explore that when we get there,” he said.
Hyde said infielder Ramón Urías is doing a bit better with his left oblique strain but he does not expect him to return when he is eligible too.
“I think it’s going to take a little bit of time,” said Hyde, who added that Trey Mancini could pinch-hit today and was taking some swings at the time of his update today with reporters.
No. 1 in the books: Catcher Adley Rutschman talked today about his first big league homer. He connected for a two-run shot in the fourth last night off Jays righty José Berríos. The two-run shot went 411 to right-center.
“Definitely an exciting moment,” said Rutschman. “I mean, just to be able to get that first one out of the way is definitely a relief.”
Once Rutschman got to the dugout, Trey Mancini, who is nursing a right-hand injury, hugged the catcher.
“Just to have that kind of support from all the guys in the dugout, everyone being excited for you, when you have a big moment, it definitely makes things a lot better when you have people around you that care about your success,” Rutschman said.
Rutschman is batting .192/.267/.321/.588 to start his career. But over his past six games he’s batting .318 (7-for-22) with five extra-base hits with four doubles and a homer.
“I mean, guys on the mound know what they’re doing. They definitely have their game plan. You have yours. And they are able to execute well and it’s definitely a challenging level," he said of starting to feel more comfortable in the box.
Now Rutschman is exciting to join other top 10 prospects here now like Kyle Bradish and Kyle Stowers.
“We definitely have a lot of guys who are talented in this organization. Which makes everything that much more exciting to be a part of. And having quality people as well makes it that much better," he said.