Thoughts on Meisinger and Yacabonis heading into doubleheader

BOSTON - The rain washed away Jimmy Yacabonis’ scheduled start last night and manager Buck Showalter snapped off a sharp curve by naming rookie Ryan Meisinger as the starter for Game 1 of today’s doubleheader. He’s waiting until his bullpen is settled to reveal his plans for Game 2.

Meisinger has made 16 relief appearances and will become the 14th starter used by the Orioles this season, the same amount as the 1988 team. The 1955 club used 19.

Meisinger-Black-Sidebar.jpgThis is going to be another bullpen game. Meisinger hasn’t topped three innings with the Orioles or thrown more than 39 pitches and that happened on July 9.

Showalter could be going with a hotter hand. Meisinger hasn’t allowed a run in five straight appearances and six of seven. His ERA has gone down from 7.30 on Sept. 7 to 4.50.

Meisinger has surrendered only one home run in seven games this month after giving up five in his first nine. He’s never faced the Red Sox.

Meanwhile, Yacabonis has become the king of doubleheaders. Let’s play two creates an opportunity for him to pitch in one.

It’s no longer a twin bill. It’s a twin Jimmy.

Yacabonis took the ball for the opener on July 9 against the Yankees, Aug. 11 against the Red Sox and Aug. 25 against the Yankees. He also worked 1 1/3 innings out of the bullpen May 12 in Game 2 against the Rays.

The only difference today would be Yacabonis dodging the 26th man designation. He didn’t fly into Boston from Norfolk or wherever the Tides were playing. He’s been part of the expanded roster, making three relief appearances and a Sept. 19 start against the Blue Jays.

The Orioles want to continue their starting experiment with Yacabonis, but he’s been needed out of the bullpen in five games this season and has been forced onto the Triple-A shuttle.

He won’t have a permanent seat if he meets the expectations of the organization.

“He’s actually been the perfect guy for that thing,” Showalter said, referencing the 26th man duties. “Yac doesn’t let a whole lot bother him. I think there are so many things kind of new for him that he embraces everything.

“He’s very coachable. You see things you talk to him about and he puts it into play. You watch him go down to Triple-A and the things you’ve talked about, he’s doing. And that’s why he keeps improving.

“I think for the role that he’s had because of the need we’ve had, he’s handled it well. I’m looking forward to next year, things kind of settling down where he can pitch every fifth day and really get on a program, because he’s interesting. He really is.”

Yacabonis made 21 starts with Norfolk and went 3-5 with a 4.26 ERA and 1.224 ERA in 76 innings. He hadn’t pitched out of a rotation until this year.

“You look at how far he’s come in this thing, and it was a whole different gig,” Showalter said. “I mean, it was, I think, junior year in high school, so it’s been fun to watch him.

“It’s kind of like Tanner (Scott). Each year, Tanner has gotten a little better. And it hasn’t been this huge increment jump every year from A to Z, but it’s been a consistent, getting a little better each year.”

Showalter explained how Yacabonis has gained a “better understanding of his delivery and a better understanding of why things happen.” A pitcher’s education broadens at the highest level and that’s especially true while converting to starter instead of handling late-inning relief duties.

“When you go back through an outing, OK, you were trying to go there and the ball went there. Why? He can answer those questions,” Showalter said.

“And he’s done a good job of correcting them on the mound.”

Yacabonis allowed three runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings in his start against the Red Sox. Eduardo Nunez and Jackie Bradley Jr. homered in the fifth inning.

In three career appearances against the Red Sox, Yacabonis has totaled only six innings and allowed four runs and seven hits. He’s never pitched at Fenway Park. We’ll find out later if it happens tonight.

Left-hander David Price has made two starts against the Orioles this season and held them to two runs with no walks and 18 strikeouts in 15 innings. He’s 14-5 with a 2.67 ERA and 1.054 WHIP in 27 career starts against them.

Chris Davis has struck out 20 times in 43 at-bats against Price. Tim Beckham is 2-for-14 with seven strikeouts.

Davis could have been on the bench for starts made by Price and left-hander Chris Sale, but a doubleheader might get him into the lineup.

Rookie DJ Stewart has accumulated only three plate appearances against left-handers and Showalter has lifted him for a pinch-hitter. Does he get a start today?

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