The Orioles are off today, but manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette will continue to discuss the composition of the 25-man roster.
Question: How long can the Orioles go with a six-man bullpen?
Answer: As long as the rotation allows it.
Showalter keeps reminding reporters that the club won’t stay with six relievers. He made it work yesterday - well, Kevin Gausman made it work by gutting out six scoreless innings and Tommy Hunter made it work by retiring all six batters he faced - but it’s an uncomfortable arrangement.
Abbreviated outings by the starters will force the Orioles to bring up another reliever. The bullpen gets some rest today, which could delay a move, but it’s coming.
Showalter hinted about one yesterday, saying, “We’ll see what we’re going to do after the game, see if we need to make any moves. See how everything goes with Kevin.”
Gausman remains a candidate to be sent down. He could come back in fewer than 10 days as a 26th player for the June 27 doubleheader against the Rays at Camden Yards.
He also could stay in the rotation, which seems more likely with only two runs allowed in 19 innings over three starts, but it’s anyone’s guess.
I’m also wondering about another possible roster move. Showalter has mentioned a few times that the club is limited in its choices among left-handed hitters.
Yesterday’s lineup included two left-handed bats against Rays starter Alex Cobb. Granted, right-handers were hitting .297 against him and left-handers were hitting .194. but Showalter said, “We have no choice.”
Nick Markakis led off and Chris Davis played first base. Ryan Flaherty (.219) and David Lough (.182) were on the bench.
The Orioles lean more to the right with switch-hitter Matt Wieters on the disabled list and catcher Steve Clevenger at Triple-A Norfolk. Switch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi also is in the minors.
“The way our roster is constructed, we don’t really have the luxury of loading up a lot of left-handed hitters right now,” Showalter said.
The Orioles held some interest in switch-hitter Kendrys Morales before they signed Nelson Cruz. That ship has sailed. The Twins released outfielder Jason Kubel this week and the Orioles have expressed interest in the past. He went unclaimed when placed on waivers last week.
Kubel signed a minor league deal with the Twins over the winter with the understanding that he’d make the club out of spring training. He was set to earn $2 million.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette discussed a major league deal with Kubel’s agent at the Winter Meetings, but the outfielder was intent on going back to Minnesota, where he played from 2004-2011. Kubel batted .224/.313/.295 with six doubles, one homer and 13 RBIs in 45 games this season.
He hasn’t been good in two years. That ship also may have sailed. But the Orioles seem to be in need of a left-handed hitter.
Meanwhile, the Cubs reportedly failed in their latest attempt to sign pitcher Jeff Samardzija to an extension and they’re trying again to move him. That means more rumors of the Orioles engaging in heated discussions and exhibiting the most interest.
I’ve heard multiple times that the Orioles haven’t discussed Samardzija with the Cubs. They don’t see a match because the Cubs are asking for so much in return.
And finally, a little rant to end this blog entry.
I tweeted yesterday, half-jokingly, that Tommy Hunter was available to accept apologies from fans after retiring all six batters he faced to carry a slim lead to closer Zach Britton. Well, that led to the predictable responses that Hunter didn’t deserve an apology because of his past failings, and his outs didn’t come in the ninth and he was only “doing his job.”
So players are open to criticism when they fail, but shouldn’t be praised when they succeed because they’re only doing their jobs. Way to stack the deck.
By that logic, you should never cheer a quality start, a save, a home run or anything else that contributes to a win. Just doing their jobs. Not even worth pointing out. Guess you should just sit on your hands and wait to boo.
I’m fully aware of Hunter’s struggles this season. I was referencing yesterday’s outing, which came with the Orioles down to three available relievers. No need to throw him a parade, but at least appreciate the effort. And admit you were wrong if you predicted that he’d blow the lead.