The Orioles will do a little more tweaking with their 25-man roster before Friday night’s series opener in Cleveland.
They need another reliever after optioning Evan Phillips following Wednesday night’s 16-5 loss to the Mets. There isn’t an obvious choice, especially with left-hander Donnie Hart ineligible after the Orioles optioned him on Saturday. He’d have to replace an injured player to return in fewer than 10 days.
With little to get excited about as the Orioles continue to hold the worst record in baseball, we need to embrace these moments and revel in our curiosity. There’s an open spot on the 40-man roster to add another new pitcher.
I was ready to toss out an interesting name here, right-hander Branden Kline, who’s recovered from Tommy John surgery and a couple of setbacks and is worthy of a promotion. However, I’m not getting that vibe and the decision appears to be between Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Ryan Meisinger and left-hander Luis Gonzalez.
Meisinger already is on the 40-man roster, though it isn’t full and shouldn’t carry the most weight. He’s already appeared in four games with the Orioles this season - one of the 11 players making his major league debut this season - and he just came off the minor league disabled list and pitched Tuesday in Pawtucket.
Meisinger was charged with two runs in six innings with the Orioles, allowing home runs to the Angels’ Martin Maldonado and the Twins’ Brian Dozier. He was optioned after tossing three scoreless and hitless innings in Game 2 of a July 9 doubleheader against the Yankees.
Gonzalez has to be protected in the Rule 5 draft in December and eventually will land on the 40-man, but it might have to wait. He posted a 2.17 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 28 appearances with Double-A Bowie, striking out 58 batters in 45 2/3 innings. He has a 2.12 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in eight games with Norfolk, striking out 17 batters in 17 innings.
The Orioles have used 51 players this season. The club record for major league debuts is 14 in 1955.
Manager Buck Showalter continues to walk that fine line between giving the young relievers a shot, delving deep into the evaluation process, and still trying to win games and rescue the pitchers who are overmatched.
Phillips had to go back to Norfolk after posting a 21.60 ERA and 3.000 WHIP in only 3 1/3 innings. He walked six batters. It wasn’t fair to him or anyone else to keep running him out there.
Cody Carroll didn’t get stuck in the muck of Wednesday’s ugly loss. He tossed a scoreless innings, though he allowed a hit and walked a batter. He struck out Kevin Plawecki, who hit a grand slam off Phillips, with two on and one out.
Left-hander Tanner Scott was charged with three runs in one-third of an inning and he walked two batters while raising his ERA to 6.57. He also two inherited runners score.
“It’s a challenge, but for a lot of guys, if it doesn’t break you, you learned from it and get hardened to it,” Showalter said.
“When you have somebody down here you step on their neck because you know how quickly it can turn the other way. We see the real good with a guy like Tanner and you see the struggles. You are always wondering at what point do you get a diminishing return on something, so you continue to look at that and that only comes from having a day-to-day relationship with them and talking to them and seeing what you’re feeling.
“Everybody talks about them being young and bulletproof, but at some point you get beat down and what are you really getting out of it sometimes. I say it all the time, the best development, a lot of it goes on in the offseason when you step back and think about this is what I felt and did when I was good and this is what I felt and did when things weren’t going well. So as much as you ... confidence comes from getting people out, but also realistically why I’m getting them out as opposed to I was lucky to get three outs that time.
“There are reasons why people are consistently successful up here.”
Update: The Orioles also will activate outfielder Craig Gentry from the disabled list and place Adam Jones on the bereavement list. Jones will be gone for a minimum of three days, per Major League Baseball rules.
Gentry was pulled from his injury rehab assignment.