The minor league rotations are taking shape, which leaves the Orioles to figure out what to do with their own.
Rookie Bruce Zimmermann has been removed from it, with the club optioning him Monday night. A very similar move to the one executed with another rookie, Dean Kremer, following his start on April 17 in Texas.
Kremer was coming off his finest outing. The first start after the Orioles recalled him was his worst, with six runs and 10 hits allowed in 4 1/3 innings, but he was outstanding Monday in Seattle, with only one run and two hits in six frames.
Zimmermann, set to report to Triple-A Norfolk, is eligible to return on May 13, but the Orioles are off again. They begin another homestand the following night against the Yankees.
“Similar type of situation where giving him a little bit of a breather, kind of a reset a little bit in a lot of ways,” manager Brandon Hyde said last night in his Zoom call with the media.
“He’s just going to stay on schedule, probably shorten his outings just to keep the innings limited but continue to work on the things that he’s been working on here and hopefully see him back here real soon. But I thought Zimm has done a nice job and he’s learning at the big league level in a tough league and a tough division. He’s going to be back soon.”
The Orioles will need a fifth starter on May 11 after Matt Harvey gets an extra day of rest Friday against the Red Sox at Camden Yards, followed by Kremer, Jorge López and John Means taking their regular turns.
Harvey would be on short rest, as it lines up now, if he returned on the 11th against the Mets at Citi Field.
In a semi-related story, Harvey has a chance to face his old team in his old home ballpark on the afternoon of May 12 if he stays on turn.
As we saw during Kremer’s brief absence, the Orioles could use their spot starter ahead of time and push back others.
It’s too early to submit a favorite for the assignment, but left-hander Zac Lowther is an obvious consideration. The stitches are out of Keegan Akin’s left index finger and he’s throwing a bullpen session today and making Friday’s start for the Tides.
A lower pitch count would keep Akin in the running on three days’ rest.
There might have to be some maneuvering done by Norfolk manager Gary Kendall to keep a starter available to the Orioles. It’s a common practice.
Former Tides skipper Ron Johnson used to make constant adjustments to his rotation to accommodate the Orioles.
Thomas Eshelman also could be an option. This is one reason why the Orioles re-signed him to a minor league deal. But Lowther’s brief promotion last month, and his one inning out of the bullpen, make him an intriguing choice.
Then again, Akin’s kitchen accident might have been the only thing stopping him from returning to the majors the last time they needed a spot starter. And he logged 25 2/3 innings with the Orioles last season.