The Orioles are most fortunate to have an open date on their schedule today.
Manager Buck Showalter was forced to use five more relievers yesterday in Toronto, including left-handers T.J. McFarland and Brian Duensing in back-to-back games. Vance Worley worked 4 1/3 innings. The situation screams for at least one roster move, but perhaps the Orioles will freshen up before opening their series Tuesday night in Boston.
Duensing allowed a hit and walked a batter in one-third of an inning and his ERA dropped from 9.82 to 9.00 in four appearances with the Orioles.
The rotation remains a serious issue, but it’s unfortunate for the Orioles that the bullpen couldn’t at least slow the bleeding in Toronto. The offense had plenty of runs in it, but one of the team’s biggest strengths unexpectedly weakened.
McFarland was charged with five runs and Duensing allowed two in three innings Saturday afternoon. Worley gave up two runs yesterday after replacing Ubaldo Jimenez and Mychal Givens surrendered a three-run homer to Russell Martin in a 10-9 loss.
Nine runs and 13 hits should be enough. Five home runs should be enough.
Jimenez lasted one-third of an inning yesterday, the shortest outing of his career. He allowed five runs and six hits while facing only seven batters. He’s gone from bad to disastrous.
Jimenez has worked five, 4 1/3, 5 2/3, 1 2/3, five, five and one-third of an inning in his last seven starts. He also went 4 2/3 innings before going eight in the second game of a May 7 doubleheader against the Athletics. He’s 3-7 with a 6.89 ERA in 13 starts.
Did Jimenez make his last appearances with the Orioles yesterday? Manager Buck Showalter gave a familiar answer yesterday when reporters pressed him on the subject.
“We have to look at other possibilities,” Showalter said. “But if we do something, he’s going to hear about it from us long before he reads about it.”
In the past, those words have led to a change. It’s just complicated with Jimenez because he’d have to give his approval to be optioned and Showalter keeps pointing out that an ineffective Jimenez would also be a liability in long relief.
Worley covered 4 1/3 innings yesterday and threw 63 pitches. Jimenez threw 30 and retired one batter.
As I’ve written, the Orioles are willing to release Jimenez and eat the remainder of his salary, including what’s left of the $13 million owed this year and the $13.5 million in 2017. It’s hardly an ideal solution, but money isn’t an impenetrable wall.
The Orioles selected three college pitchers on the first day of the draft. None of them have signed. None of them would be ready immediately to contribute to the Orioles. No need to think about it.
Dylan Bundy is being stretched out, but he’s not going to provide much length if he’s put in the rotation. I know, I know. Hold the Jimenez jokes.
The Orioles wouldn’t be in full crisis mode if they had only one concern in their rotation. That’s hardly the case.
They can score runs in bunches, as they demonstrated again yesterday. The bullpen is among the best despite what happened over the weekend. The defense is solid as long as the pitchers don’t touch the ball, which is an unreasonable expectation. But what can be done about the rotation?
No one is beating down the door. Is anyone tapping lightly on it?
Screaming for change is idiotic if you can’t come up with an obvious replacement on the 25-man roster or in the minors. However, the Orioles don’t have much more to lose by giving someone else a shot. They’re fortunate to still be tied with the Red Sox for first place in the American League East. In a related story, they’re playing the Red Sox this week.
Jimenez may be on his way out. It’s just a question of how bold the move.