More Orioles pitching and other notes

The rotation received a roundhouse shot in the arm with the Feb. 1 trade for ace Corbin Burnes. It absorbed a couple of blows with the spring training news that Kyle Bradish, the Orioles’ Game 1 starter in the Division series, and former All-Star John Means would begin the season on the injured list, and then lost Tyler Wells last month to elbow inflammation. The unit grew stronger with the returns of Bradish and Means but also lost Grayson Rodriguez to shoulder inflammation.

The calm keeps clashing with the storms, but the Orioles headed into their off-day with the fifth-lowest team ERA in the majors at 3.31. The starters’ ERA fell to 3.18, sixth in the majors and fourth in the American League. The staff’s 1.08 WHIP ranked fourth in the majors and third in the AL.

The Orioles have allowed two runs or fewer in seven consecutive games, their longest single-season streak since Aug. 1-8, 1980, when they reached eight. The ERA is 1.14 during this stretch.

Starters plowed through the Reds’ order over the weekend, failing to surrender a run in 19 1/3 innings. And they did it without Burnes and Bradish, who are on deck in D.C. and trying to extend the starters' streak of six-plus shutout innings to five and tie the club record from Sept. 2-6, 1974 and Sept. 26-Oct. 1, 1995.

How’s that for pitching depth? Wait for Wells and Rodriguez and keep hanging zeros.

The volatility hasn’t stopped the Orioles from setting its 13-man staff. Perhaps the churning will slow a bit.

Burnes, Bradish, Cole Irvin, Means and Dean Kremer are locked in as starters, in that order. Irvin hasn’t surrendered a run in his last 20 2/3 innings. He was supposed to be the outsider, sent to the bullpen for bulk relief, but he refuses to go along with it.

The media’s obsession with camp velocity increases was never shared by Irvin. Just get outs. Focus on the mindset instead of miles-per-hour.

Wells could go back to his former relief role but there’s plenty of time to devise a plan. He’s got to begin a throwing program and accumulate some innings on a rehab assignment.

The unfortunate part for Wells is how he devoted his winter to creating a workhorse starter, and maybe it happens for him. But he also can be a dominant force in the ‘pen and give the Orioles a backup closer.

Albert Suárez impressed in two starts but he fills a major need as a consumer of innings in relief. He retired all seven batters he faced Sunday in Cincinnati on only 24 pitches, but manager Brandon Hyde removed him with one out in the ninth. Maybe due to the week-long layoff or wanting to give Mike Baumann some work, though the right-hander tossed two scoreless innings Wednesday.

Anyway, having Suárez in the ‘pen is a plus.

The other relievers are Craig Kimbrel, Yennier Cano, Danny Coulombe, Cionel Pérez, Jacob Webb and Keegan Akin. The Orioles don’t need to do anything except to get Kimbrel back to the version that didn’t allow an earned run in 10 consecutive appearances and struck out the side Friday night in Cincinnati after returning from the upper-back tightness.

Kimbrel’s ERA is up to 3.55 with a 1.342 WHIP in 15 games. He’s averaging 14.9 strikeouts per nine innings but also five walks.

If you’re wondering, his 15 appearances were tied yesterday for 46th in the majors. Cano leads the Orioles with 17, followed by Coulombe and Webb with 16 and Kimbrel and Akin with 15. Baumann is behind them with 14.

Kimbrel turns 36 later this month. His age naturally is gonna come up when he struggles.

Dillon Tate won’t spend his summer with Triple-A Norfolk. He was optioned because he had options and a 2.84 ERA in 11 appearances couldn’t save him. But he doesn’t have a clear path at the moment and must wait his turn.

The off-day allowed the Orioles to get some rest before their two-game series against the Nationals, who have won seven of their last 10 games to reach .500 and settle into third place in the National League East.

The Orioles led the majors yesterday with 54 home runs and the Nationals were 22nd with 31. The Orioles were second in OPS at .762, which led the American League, and the Nationals were 17th at .682.

The Orioles' 180 runs were third in the majors and led the AL. The Nationals were 18th in the majors with 142.

The Nationals' 4.10 ERA was 20th in the majors. The starters were 20th at 4.30.

These teams meet four times a season and the Orioles swept the series in 2023. They won 1-0 and 4-0 in April at Nationals Park as part of a seven-game winning streak and 1-0 and 5-1 in September at Camden Yards.

Kremer tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings in D.C., followed by Bradish’s six scoreless. Bradish came back with eight shutout innings in the rematch, allowing only three hits.

* Norfolk’s Chayce McDermott was named International League Pitcher of the Week.

The Tides threw a combined no-hitter Saturday and McDermott got it started with 6 2/3 innings scoreless innings and 11 strikeouts.

MLB Pipeline ranks McDermott as the organization’s No. 8 prospect and first among pitchers.

* New owner David Rubenstein has agreed to be the “guest splasher” in section 86 for Friday night’s game against the Diamondbacks. He’s filling in for Mr. Splash, as promoted on the Orioles’ social media accounts.

The first 20,000 fans 15 and older will receive a Mr. Splash bobblehead.

Rubenstein is seen in the video asking, “Do all owners do this?” He might be the first to wear a pink flamingo inner tube.

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