More on rotation and roster composition as Orioles conclude series

ST. LOUIS – The moment has arrived when the Orioles must announce their starting pitcher for today’s game and determine whether Ryan Mountcastle or Ramón Urías is available to play. And if not, whether they want to close out their series with a one-man bench, this time catcher Robinson Chirinos, who started last night.

By “moment,” of course, I’m referring to later today. They won’t do anything at this ungodly hour.

Keegan Akin could be pried from the relief role he’s thriving in or work in bulk behind a short-inning guy. Akin hasn’t pitched since the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader.

Marcos Diplán and Denyi Reyes are on the taxi squad.

The Orioles reached their maximum of five players for the taxi squad with infielders Rylan Bannon and Richie Martin arriving yesterday from Triple-A Norfolk.

Where it gets interesting is whether the Orioles would avoid using the injured list if Mountcastle and Urías truly are day-to-day, and perhaps adjust their ratio of pitchers to position players.

Remove a reliever in favor of an infielder.

Bannon is on the 40-man roster, enabling the Orioles to avoid a corresponding move to create room. Richie Martin isn’t, but Chris Ellis or Alexander Wells could be transferred to the 60-day injured list. No sweat.

Reliever Travis Lakins Sr., optioned after Thursday night’s game but kept as the 27th man in Sunday’s doubleheader and again after Jorge López went on the bereavement list, allowed two runs last night in the eighth inning and could be sent down. Whether for an infielder or a new pitcher.

A three-man bench is viewed as a gamble, but it makes sense with high value placed on an extra bullpen arm following a short spring training, and with the Orioles employing some younger starters who need special care.

Manager Brandon Hyde didn’t pause Tuesday night when sending Kyle Bradish back out to the mound for the seventh inning. Tyler Wells threw 75 pitches in six innings in his last outing, pretty much his ceiling in his return to starting.

Bradish launched himself onto a pretty impressive list of Orioles pitchers Tuesday night.

Statcast didn’t compute the exact angle, but it looked good from here.

In only his third major league start, Bradish became the 11th pitcher in club history to work at least seven innings, walk none and strike out 11 or more. It’s happened 15 times since the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1954, according to STATS.

Eric Bedard leads the pack with three. Mike Mussina and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer each did it twice.

John Means was the most recent with 12 strikeouts in nine innings during last year’s no-hitter in Seattle.

Here’s the complete list:

Kyle Bradish: 5/10/22 (seven innings, 11 strikeouts vs. Cardinals)
John Means: 5/5/21 (nine innings, 12 strikeouts vs. Mariners)
Wade Miley: 9/24/16 (8 2/3, 11 strikeouts vs. Diamondbacks)
Erik Bedard: 8/21/07 (seven innings, 11 strikeouts vs. Rangers)
Eric Bedard: 7/7/07 (nine innings, 15 strikeouts vs. Rangers)
Eric Bedard: 6/21/06 (eight innings, 12 strikeouts vs. Marlins)
Mike Mussina: 9/24/00 (seven innings, 15 strikeouts vs. Red Sox)
Mike Mussina: 3/31/98 (eight innings, 11 strikeouts vs. Royals)
David Wells: 9/6/96 (seven innings, 11 strikeouts vs. Tigers)
Mike Flanagan: 6/30/78 (nine innings, 13 strikeouts vs. Red Sox)
Jim Palmer: 6/19/76 (nine innings, 11 strikeouts vs. Rangers)
Jim Palmer: 5/9/71 (seven innings, 11 strikeouts vs. Athletics)
Tom Phoebus: 6/29/67 (nine innings, 11 strikeouts vs. White Sox)
Harvey Haddix: 6/15/64 (8 2/3 innings, 11 strikeouts vs. White Sox)
Dick Hall: 7/28/62 (nine innings, 12 strikeouts vs. Athletics)

It also happened twice while the franchise was based in St. Louis – Urban Shocker in 1920 with 14 strikeouts in nine innings and Fred Glade in 1904 with 15 strikeouts in nine innings.

Bradish joined Stephen Strasburg as the only pitchers to strike out 11 and walk none within their first three major league games.

“I love playing third when he’s pitching,” said Tyler Nevin, “because when we throw the ball around, he gives a glove bump, like, through the air, and I can see in his eyes he wants that ball.”

What he’s doing with it makes the Orioles feel even better about their rotation – now and in the future.

Bradish is expected to start Monday night against the Yankees at Camden Yards. Jordan Lyles opens the upcoming series in Detroit, followed by Bruce Zimmermann and Wells. They’re staying in turn.

If the Orioles intend to select Adley Rutschman’s contract this month, he could debut Monday and provide the target for Bradish.

As if fans needed more reason to get excited about his arrival. The prospect pairing would be delicious.   

Speaking of catchers, Robinson Chirinos’ run-scoring double last night gave him RBIs in two of his 22 games. He’s doing fine work defensively, however.

Chirinos has four RBIs. Anthony Bemboom has none in 44 plate appearances, but also is valued for his work with the staff.

Bemboom pinch-hit last night in the ninth inning, basically clearing the bench.

The signing of Rico Garcia to a minor league contract in November didn’t rock the baseball world, but he’s recovered from Tommy John surgery that kept him from pitching in 2021 and has thrown eight scoreless innings in four games, with three walks and 16 strikeouts. He struck out the side last night in the sixth inning in Reading and retired all nine batters faced.

The Orioles assigned Garcia, 28, to Double-A Bowie after he made one appearance with High-A Aberdeen and struck out six batters in two innings.

Garcia wants another shot in the majors, where he’s posted a 7.31 ERA in 14 games between the Rockies and Giants (12). He’s likely to climb the next rung and pitch for Norfolk, and then anything’s possible.

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