CHICAGO – The identity of Saturday’s starter wasn’t expected to be revealed until that morning. The way it’s happened with the Orioles in the past. Everyone loves tradition.
Manager Brandon Hyde surprised the media late last night by breaking his own news. Rookie Kyle Bradish is pushed back to Saturday. Austin Voth is leading another bullpen game tonight.
Hyde wasn’t ready to commit yesterday afternoon until checking the condition of his bullpen. Voth didn’t pitch. He remained in play.
The taxi squad figured to offer a few hints. The Orioles will have one tonight. But they don’t seem interested in making a roster move.
There appeared to be three possibilities, including Voth, who made an emergency start Sunday against the Rays after Jordan Lyles was scratched with a stomach virus. He responded with 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
His usage out of the bullpen last night would have eliminated him from consideration. That’s why Hyde was reluctant to make a final call.
Starting Voth prevents the Orioles from making a corresponding roster move. The execution is easier, if that matters. But there’s always risk associated with a bullpen game.
The Orioles instructed Triple-A Norfolk manager Buck Britton to remove Spenser Watkins after the first inning Wednesday night in Lehigh Valley, keeping the right-hander available to them. Sort of a brief side session except it happened on the main field.
Maybe he’ll show up on the taxi squad.
Watkins has made eight starts for the Orioles and posted a 6.00 ERA and 1.700 WHIP with 15 walks and 14 strikeouts in 30 innings. He faced three batters on May 22, retired none and went on the 15-day injured list with a bruised right elbow.
A 106 mph line drive off Ji-Man Choi’s bat nailed Watkins on the arm. The Orioles activated Watkins earlier this month and optioned him.
Denyi Reyes hasn’t pitched since June 15 in Norfolk, when he surrendered two runs in 4 2/3 innings. He started for the Orioles in Game 2 of a May 28 doubleheader in Boston and allowed only one run in 3 2/3 innings.
Overall, Reyes has made three appearances in the majors, the last on June 3. He covered two innings out of the bullpen against the Guardians and allowed one run and four hits.
I checked Norfolk’s active roster and he’s on it. He just hasn’t gotten into a game in more than a week.
Maybe he’s on the taxi squad.
* Left-hander Nick Vespi has made eight major league appearances and already earned his first two wins and a save.
The second win and save were attained in his last two outings.
Vespi didn’t know he qualified for the save Wednesday night until leaving Camden Yards for the flight to Chicago. He worked a scoreless top of the sixth inning with the Orioles ahead 3-0 before they scored four runs in the bottom half to expand the lead and a second rain delay ended the game.
“It’s a pretty unique way to get a save there. Didn’t even think it was a thing until I was getting on the bus and they told me, so it’s pretty cool,” he said.
“I had no idea. Didn’t even cross my mind at all. It was a surprise to me, but it was cool.”
Vespi received a text from his father that read, “Hey, you got the save.” Hyde confirmed it later.
“I was getting on the plane and Hyde told me, ‘Hey, congrats, you got your first save,’” Vespi said. “I was like, ‘Oh yeah.’”
Does the first win or save mean more to Vespi?
“It’s a tie,” he said.
Or maybe not.
“I think a win’s more important,” he said, “because winning ballgames at this level is important.”
Vespi only has the ball from his first win, which came in his debut against the Rays on May 20. The Orioles optioned him, and he didn’t pitch again in the majors until June 5.
There are no souvenirs from the save.
“It was a pretty unique way,” he said. “No one really knew that it was a thing.”
Vespi will present the ball and framed lineup card from his first win to his parents.
* The Orioles have 16 outfield assists, which ties the Rangers for the major league lead. They’ve collected five in their last six games.
* Last night’s win was the Orioles’ first shutout at Guaranteed Rate Field since May 13, 2004.
* Dean Kremer recorded 14 swings and misses in his first career start against the White Sox. He threw 39 cutters averaging 88 mph, 28 four-seam fastballs averaging 94.5 mph, 15 changeups averaging 84.3 mph and 11 curveballs averaging 76.4 mph.