TORONTO – Left-hander Bruce Zimmermann has lost his spot in the Orioles’ rotation and active roster.
The club optioned Zimmermann to Triple-A Norfolk today and recalled reliever Mike Baumann, who was on the taxi squad.
Zimmermann surrendered three more home runs last night in a 10-inning loss to the Blue Jays, increasing his total to 17 in his last seven starts and 18 for the season, tied with Miami’s Elieser Hernández for most in the majors.
The month of June hasn’t brought any relief to the Baltimore native. He’s allowed 18 runs and 31 hits in 15 innings.
Zimmermann’s ERA has risen from 2.72 on May 14 to 5.94. He began the season with a scoreless streak of 14 2/3 innings.
“Zimm’s had a handful of tough starts, and we just feel like he needs to go down and kind of do a reset,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Work on some things mechanically, work on some things from the command standpoint with some of his pitches. He got off to a really good start this year. Just hasn’t translated here in the last few starts, and for me, the best thing for him is to go down and kind of pitch in some lower-pressure situations, face some Triple-A lineups, and hopefully we’ll see him back here soon.”
The adjustments made by Zimmermann in his last few outings, done to better conceal the ball and improve his command, haven’t produced the necessary results. He’s leaving pitches over the middle of the plate, especially his slider and changeup, and hasn’t been able to work the edges of the plate.
Without an overpowering fastball, lapses in command lead to lopsided scores and short outings.
Zimmermann tied a franchise record by surrendering five home runs in a May 29 game in Boston.
“I just think when you’re not pitching well and not able to command certain pitches, it’s really, really tough in this league,” Hyde said. “He’s getting hurt on a lot of off-speed pitches that are catching too much of the plate in the thigh area, where he’s giving up homers. For me, he’s got to be able to command his fastball a little bit better, especially to these right-handed dominated lineups, be able to get them off the off-speed. So even if you do make a mistake off-speed wise, they can’t just sit all over it because they’re not sitting out over the plate.”
“To be able to really pitch both sides of the plate with his fastball is going to be key to get the depth back in his changeup. That’s something he’s going to be working on in Triple-A.”
Hyde said Zimmermann took the news “like a pro.”
“I think that he’s frustrated with how he’s pitched here the last month or so. I didn’t sense anything out of the ordinary. I thought he took it well.”
Hyde isn’t ready to announce Zimmermann’s replacement in the rotation. He can tweak it with Monday’s off day.
Spenser Watkins is a candidate at Norfolk. It may be a little too soon for left-hander DL Hall, who started today against Syracuse and struck out 11 batters with one run allowed in 4 1/3 innings.
“We could play with the rotation a little bit,” Hyde said. “We’ll explore that kind of when we get there.”
Hyde said Trey Mancini could be available off the bench today. Mancini hit on the field to test his sore right hand.
For the Blue Jays
Santiago Espinal 3B
Bo Bichette SS
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 1B
Alejandro Kirk DH
Teoscar Hernández RF
Raimel Tapia CF
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. LF
Gabriel Moreno C
Cavan Biggio 2B
Kevin Gausman RHP
The Orioles are starting Dean Kremer, Kyle Bradish and Jordan Lyles in the series against the Rays that begins Friday night at Camden Yards. The Rays are sending Shane Baz, Jeffrey Springs and Corey Kluber to the mound.