There will come a point later this month when the Orioles’ bullpen includes Zach Britton and Darren O’Day. Together at the same time. Maybe it’s not too late to produce dual bobbleheads for the occasion.
Britton hasn’t pitched this season after undergoing Achilles surgery back in December. O’Day’s been on the disabled list since May 6 after a teammate ran into him in the bullpen and hyperextended his right elbow.
(A perfect symbol of the 2018 season.)
If the Orioles stick with a seven-man bullpen, five of the spots will be occupied by Britton, O’Day, Brad Brach, Mychal Givens and Richard Bleier. They continue to carry Mike Wright Jr. and Rule 5 pick Pedro Araujo, which adds up to seven.
Under this scenario, they’re back to carrying one left-hander and Tanner Scott must return to Triple-A Norfolk. Riding the shuttle may be unavoidable for Scott because he’s an optionable piece, but there must be a point this summer where he hops off it and is allowed to establish himself as a major leaguer.
As long as he isn’t getting knocked around nightly, find out whether he’s a potential closer or set-up man or multi-inning reliever or all of the above. Keep a power arm from the left side, a guy whose fastball sits in the upper-90s and whose slider has been filthy. And forget starting him. He’d rather pitch out of the bullpen and there’s tremendous upside to using him in relief.
Scott showed me something again last night after surrendering Aaron Judge’s massive home run in the seventh inning. He struck out the next two batters, Greg Bird and Giancarlo Stanton, giving him three in the inning.
Jonathan Schoop is an interesting addition to the group if the Orioles won’t engage in extension talks, which should have been done. He’s a free agent following the 2019 season.
It makes no sense to me to include Trey Mancini, as some fans have suggested. You’d be selling low this summer with Mancini slumping and his first year of arbitration doesn’t arrive until 2020. A player with tremendous upside who’s under team control for a significant stretch.
He’s hit at every level. He’ll hit again in the majors. The knee may be hampering him more than we’re hearing.
Mancini is a guy to build around. Same with Schoop if they make an aggressive play to keep him. I’m not holding slumps against them. Got to step back from the first couple months of the season and try to see the bigger picture.
There aren’t a lot of untouchables on a team that’s 23 games below .500. Givens isn’t arbitration eligible until 2019 and he may be closing next season, so the Orioles resisted trade talks over the winter.
They checked on potential interest in Mark Trumbo, who was coming off a poor season after receiving a three-year deal for $37.5 million. Trumbo is batting .304 in 24 games since coming off the disabled list.
* Manager Buck Showalter has stated multiple times of late that he speaks with executive vice president Dan Duquette on a regular basis about possible ways to fix the offense. Patience already was wearing thin. It’s basically down to one side.
There aren’t a lot of options down in the minors between guys not hitting or being hurt, but how much longer before some veterans who aren’t producing and aren’t part of a rebuild finally come off the roster?
The lineup is littered with low averages and the bench has little to offer. No offense to Andrew Susac, who does decent work behind the plate, but he’s now 3-for-26 after striking out last night against Aroldis Chapman to end the game. Craig Gentry (.221) also struck out. Pedro Álvarez struck out in the seventh to strand two runners and lower his average to .188.
Jace Peterson, batting .178, continues to lead off.
Chance Sisco’s average is down to .208, but at least he has a .327 on-base percentage. He’s been hit six times.
* The flurry of minor league moves yesterday included the placement of Triple-A Norfolk pitcher Chris Lee on the seven-day disabled list retroactive to Wednesday with a left shoulder injury.
This is disappointing news considering Lee’s former status as one of the top pitching prospects in the organization and how injuries keep stalling his career.
Lee is 0-2 with a 10.64 ERA and 3.00 WHIP in five games (three starts) with the Tides. He’s allowed 13 earned runs and 16 total with 23 hits, 10 walks and a hit batter in 11 innings.
A strained right oblique suffered in spring training delayed Lee’s debut until May 4. He appeared in only eight games with Double-A Bowie in 2016 due to a lat/shoulder injury.
Lee was optimistic at minicamp about his impressive finish in 2017 and his health. He posted a 6.21 ERA with Norfolk before moving to the bullpen on July 27. He allowed four earned runs in 24 1/3 relief innings for a 1.48 ERA and opponents batted .250 against him.
“It was more about just putting all the bad stuff past me and just taking everything day by day and pitch by pitch,” Lee said in January. “More the mental side. Just staying relaxed and not letting the game speed up on me and take me down. Keep my head up and keep firing away and do the best I can to give my team a chance to win.
“My body’s good. It was just one of those times where you haven’t got it every single game, but you’ve just got to look past it. It’s a new year, a new me and I’m ready to go.”
* I wrote yesterday that the Orioles want utility player Steve Wilkerson to move around at Norfolk. In three games he’s played third base, second base and right field.
* With the First-Year Player Draft only a few days ago, the Orioles have been working out a few Mid-Atlantic area pitchers at Camden Yards. The sessions took place in the early afternoon.
A right-hander threw for them on Thursday and a right-hander and left-hander on Friday. No need to adjust your draft boards.
The Orioles remain intent on taking the best available player with the 11th overall pick. Could be a pitcher or position player, high school or college. They won’t draft for “need.”