Orioles manager Brandon Hyde is unlikely to use Hunter Harvey on consecutive days out of the bullpen, which eliminates the rookie from consideration as the team closes out its series against the Royals.
Harvey retired the side in order last night in the eighth inning, striking out two batters and earning his first major league win. He also tossed a scoreless inning in his debut Saturday at Fenway Park, again striking out two and also issuing a walk.
“Probably not,” Hyde said. “There’s instances where I will, but we’re going to be pretty careful with him. Not going to throw him that many innings throughout the rest of the year.
“Certain times possibly, but probably not. Would like to.”
The club has placed a strict innings limit on Harvey, who’s accumulated 77 2/3 this season compared to 32 1/3 last summer and 18 2/3 in 2017. Of course, they aren’t going public with the total, but it does exist.
“We have a number that we’re going to stay within. I’m not going to pitch him every time it’s a close game late, but pick my spots,” Hyde said.
“I’m not going to go into the number, but like I said, we’ll pick our spots with him.”
Hyde has wanted to give Harvey the ball in a clean inning, but it won’t be a restriction. Circumstances could leave him with inherited runners or needing fewer than three outs.
“I preferred these first couple times, like in Boston I didn’t want him in the middle of an inning,” Hyde said. “Last night I didn’t want him to come in in the middle of an inning. I wanted him to start the inning. That’s what I’d prefer to do. Obviously game situation stuff changes.
“I would bring him in in the middle of an inning if necessary, but prefer not to.”
There are no plans to have Harvey close, but that’s a possibility if dictated by circumstances, such as Mychal Givens being unavailable on a particular night.
“I just want to watch him pitch and learn what it’s like to pitch out of the bullpen in the big leagues,” Hyde said. “I’ll pick my spots with him, throw him in different scenarios, different situations and monitor his innings closely, and looking forward to watching him the rest of the year.”
The Orioles haven’t made a firm decision on Hunter’s role beyond this season. Starting hasn’t been eliminated, but it’s pretty clear that they like him coming out of the bullpen.
“We’ll see. Not sure,” Hyde said. “Finish this year healthy and we’ll go from there.”
The Orioles made Harvey the 22nd overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. They chose first baseman Trey Mancini in the eighth round.
Mancini took his swings against Harvey on one of the back fields at spring training and struck out in a pretty non-competitive at-bat. Now he’s been able to watch Harvey dominate other hitters in two major league games.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Mancini said. “I don’t know if you remember in spring training when I faced him and he kind of made me look dumb on a few pitches and I was like, ‘Keep doing that, man, and you’ll be up here sooner than you think.’ I know he was throwing well down in Norfolk and we’ve seen two absolutely electric innings out of him up here. He throws with conviction and authority. He’s not afraid to go right after guys and that stuff’s impressive.
“I think more than anything I’ve just been more impressed with his presence on the mound and, like I said, his authority and the way he throws the ball. It’s really fun to play behind and it’s great to get an up-close view, too, from first.”
Knowing the back story on Harvey, including the Tommy John surgery and multiple setbacks, allows Mancini to fully appreciate what’s happening. This isn’t the first time they’ve been teammates and a friendship already formed in the lower minors.
“I think that makes it that much better,” Mancini said. “He was a first-round pick in our draft. I could have told you when we were in Delmarva in 2014 that he was going to be a really good pitcher up here. I’ve never really doubted that. He’s just had some unfortunate injuries, but now that he’s healthy we’re all seeing what he’s doing out there and I’m really proud of him for all the work he put in and never giving up after all he went through.
“A lot of freak injuries, too, I feel. That’s not easy to deal with and he did such a good job and he worked hard to get here, so we’re finally seeing the reward for all that and he should be proud of himself for all the work he put in to get here.”
Mancini remains at first base tonight with Chris Davis on the bench against left-hander Mike Montgomery. Hyde explained again that there isn’t a health issue with Davis or Mancini.
“It wasn’t about that,” he said. “I just wanted to have him play first base again and it wasn’t a physical thing except he’s played a ton of games in the outfield and want to see him more at first base.”
The Rays are starting left-hander Ryan Yarbrough in Thursday’s series opener, which could keep Davis out of the lineup.
Dwight Smith Jr. is playing left field tonight at Norfolk after serving as designated hitter in the past two games.
Competitive eater Joey Chestnut attended Hyde’s pregame media session. They shook hands and Hyde congratulated Chestnut on his success.
He also was told to stay away from the pregame spread.
(OK, not really.)
The club filmed Chestnut on the field taking a bite of a hotdog while wearing the yellow mustard giveaway T-shirt. He had the red ketchup and green relish shirts draped over each shoulder.
Update II: Whit Merrifield led off the third with a home run, the 258th surrendered by the Orioles to tie the 2016 Reds for the major league record.
Update IV: Hanser Alberto’s three-run homer in the sixth upped the lead to 8-1.