Tag Archive | "Buck Showalter"

Orioles hoping to have Hardy back in lineup by Friday

Tags: , , , ,

Orioles hoping to have Hardy back in lineup by Friday

Posted on 10 September 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles hope the favorable results of a magnetic resonance imaging exam will lead to shortstop J.J. Hardy’s return to the lineup as early as Friday when they welcome the New York Yankees to Camden Yards for a day-night doubleheader.

Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Boston that Hardy met with Dr. Michael Jacobs and received a cortisone injection in the sacroiliac joint in his lower back on Tuesday. It’s similar to the treatment Hardy received in April when he experienced spasms that caused his back to lock up, and the MRI results showed no changes or structural concerns, according to the Baltimore skipper.

The injection typically requires 48 hours to take effect, which would presumably have Hardy ready to go by Friday in Showalter’s mind. Of course, the Orioles have taken great caution with their Gold Glove shortstop as a 10-game lead in the American League East entering Wednesday allows them to do.

Hardy originally experienced a lower back spasm that forced him out of a game on Sept. 1. After returning to the lineup for three contests last week, Hardy hasn’t played since last Friday as he continues to experience soreness. The 32-year-old missed six games in early April due to lower back spasms that were more severe than what he experienced last week.

In 480 at-bats this season, Hardy is hitting .281 with nine home runs, 26 doubles, and 52 runs batted in.

Comments (0)

Keeping eye on Orioles bullpen in September

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Keeping eye on Orioles bullpen in September

Posted on 05 September 2014 by Luke Jones

There’s little to be concerned about with the Orioles enjoying a 9 1/2 game lead in the American League East entering the weekend, but the late innings of Thursday’s 9-7 win over the Cincinnati Reds suggest there might be something worth monitoring in the short-term future.

The Orioles bullpen has been stellar all season, ranking fourth in the AL with a 3.21 ERA, but there have been a few leaks over the last week that likely grabbed the attention of manager Buck Showalter. Baltimore relievers only rank sixth in the AL in innings pitched, which doesn’t indicate overuse being a major concern, but witnessing Brian Matusz and the newly-recalled Evan Meek warm up in the eighth inning of a two-run game Thursday — the night after Miguel Gonzalez had pitched a complete-game shutout to give the entire bullpen a night off — made it clear that Showalter didn’t have his full array of arms.

Left-handed reliever Andrew Miller is currently dealing with a tweaked hamstring and hasn’t pitched since Monday when he allowed two hits and an earned run while retiring only two batters. The former Boston reliever has downplayed the significance of his injury, but it’s clear the Orioles manager was trying to avoid using him this week.

Outstanding right-hander Darren O’Day not warming up after Tommy Hunter allowed a leadoff double in the eighth inning Thursday makes you wonder if he might be dealing with a physical challenge as well. O’Day did throw 26 pitches in a rare poor appearance Tuesday when he allowed a grand slam to Jay Bruce, but the submarine-style pitcher only seeing one appearance since Saturday is a little unusual.

Right-hander Brad Brach has been one of the better stories of the 2014 season, but the 28-year-old has allowed five earned runs, nine hits, and three walks in his last three innings of work spanning five appearances. His four runs allowed Thursday allowed the Reds to come back from what was originally a 6-0 deficit in the first inning to force a 7-7 tie in the seventh.

And even though closer Zach Britton continues to do remarkable work in the ninth, he ranks eighth in the majors in innings pitched by relievers and recently completed a stretch in which he appeared in five games in seven days. The former starting pitcher is used to a heavy volume of work, but pitching so frequently is a difficult adjustment for someone in his first season pitching in relief.

By no means should these factors instill any sense of panic, but they do provide evidence for Showalter to make use of his September bullpen that currently features 11 pitchers. The manager has already said he won’t change his managerial style before the Orioles potentially clinch their first division title since 1997, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to lighten the load for the key members of his bullpen such as Britton, O’Day, and Miller while passing a few more opportunities toward the likes of Hunter, Matusz, Ryan Webb, T.J.McFarland, and even veteran Joe Saunders.

It’s a careful balancing act as relievers need regular work to remain sharp, but there’s no question that Showalter will want to do everything he can to ensure that his late-inning weapons are as close to full strength as they can be in October.

Comments (0)

Hardy out of Tuesday’s lineup, four more added to Orioles’ expanded roster

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Hardy out of Tuesday’s lineup, four more added to Orioles’ expanded roster

Posted on 02 September 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles began a three-game interleague series with the Cincinnati Reds without the starting shortstop in the starting lineup Tuesday.

After leaving Monday’s loss to the Minnesota Twins with back spasms, J.J. Hardy was on the bench as manager Buck Showalter wanted to give the veteran infielder an extra day to rest. Hardy told reporters following Monday’s game that the spasm did not cause his back to lock up like the one in April that forced him to miss five games.

Infielder Ryan Flaherty was starting at shortstop in place of Hardy against the Reds.

The Orioles continued their roster expansion Tuesday by recalling pitchers T.J. McFarland and Ryan Webb and catcher Steve Clevenger and selecting the contract of Triple-A Norfolk outfielder Quintin Berry. Showalter told reporters prior to Tuesday’s game that he doesn’t anticipate adding any other players unless injuries dictate a need.

While McFarland and Clevenger were recently on the roster before temporarily being optioned, Webb is making his return to the Orioles bullpen for the first time since being optioned on Aug. 1. The acquisition of left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller at the non-waiver trade deadline pushed Webb to the minor leagues where he posted a 4.76 ERA in 11 1/3 innings for the Tides. In 42 2/3 innings for the Orioles this season, the 28-year-old has pitched to a 3.80 ERA.

Berry will provide the Orioles another speedy option off the bench as he batted .285 with 25 stolen bases in 31 attempts in 112 games for Norfolk this season. Including the postseason, Berry is 29-for-29 stealing bases in his major league career, which includes stops in Detroit and Boston.

In order to make room for Berry on the 40-man roster, the Orioles placed third baseman Manny Machado on the 60-day disabled list. The 22-year-old Gold Glove winner underwent season-ending knee surgery last week.

In other injury-related news, first baseman and outfielder Steve Pearce continues to improve after suffering an abdominal strain last week. The Orioles and Pearce are hopeful that he’ll be ready to return this weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg.

After tweaking his leg on his final pitch against the Twins on Monday afternoon, Miller is day to day and may have just experienced a cramp, according to Showalter.

Comments (0)

Hardy leaves Monday’s game with light back spasms

Tags: , , , ,

Hardy leaves Monday’s game with light back spasms

Posted on 01 September 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Shortstop J.J. Hardy lefty Monday’s game with some light back spasms in the eighth inning of the Orioles’ 6-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Hardy went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and was replaced by utility infielder Ryan Flaherty after he came around to score on catcher Nick Hundley’s three-run homer to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. After missing five games earlier in April due to a similar ailment, Hardy did not seem overly concerned following the game and told reporters he expected to be in the lineup when the Orioles welcome the Cincinnati Reds to Camden Yards on Tuesday night.

“Earlier this year, it started with spasms, but then it completely locked up on me and I missed a week,” Hardy said. “It didn’t lock up on me [this time], so I think it’s just some light spasms. It’s probably a good thing that I got out of there.”

Hardy wondered if the heat finally hitting Baltimore over the weekend had a part in the spasms occurring. The infielder estimated he lost six or seven pounds from perspiring during Sunday’s game.

Manager Buck Showalter wanted to play it safe with his Gold Glove shortstop and described Hardy as “day to day” following the game.

“He kind of wanted to continue, but I didn’t want to take a chance of him getting any worse,” Showalter said. “I’m hoping it was just a sticky, hot day, and it caught up with him a little bit. I just wanted to be on the safe side and see what tomorrow brings. His last at-bat, I noticed he looked a little different. He said it had just tightened up on him a little bit.”

Comments (0)

Cruz: “There’s no doubt that I’d like to stay” with Orioles

Tags: , , , ,

Cruz: “There’s no doubt that I’d like to stay” with Orioles

Posted on 29 August 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Few players have made as much of an impact in their first season in Baltimore as Nelson Cruz, and he and the Orioles are interested in continuing their relationship beyond 2014.

The 34-year-old outfielder confirmed to reporters prior to Friday’s series opener against the Minnesota Twins that his agent, Adam Katz, and the Orioles have had discussions regarding a contract extension since the All-Star break. However, those talks have been “nothing serious” beyond a preliminary basis.

“I like the clubhouse and I like the guys,” Cruz said. “But at the same time, I’ve been through this before, and this is a business. It’s the owner and the [general manager's] decision. But there’s no doubt that I’d like to stay.”

Entering Friday night, Cruz led the major leagues with 34 homers and was hitting .256 with a club-leading 88 runs batted in. In a season in which the Orioles have lost catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado to season-ending injuries and slugging first baseman Chris Davis is hitting an anemic .188, Cruz is a major reason why the Orioles own a comfortable lead in the American League East entering Labor Day weekend.

Through June 4, Cruz looked like a favorite to be the AL Most Valuable Player when he was hitting .319 with 21 homers, 55 RBIs, and a 1.064 on-base plus slugging percentage in 242 plate appearances. However, in 311 plate appearances since then, the veteran slugger has batted only .208 with 13 home runs, 33 RBIs, and a .658 OPS.

Cruz has been a welcome addition in the Orioles clubhouse as he’s been popular with teammates and had a previous relationship with manager Buck Showalter going back to their days with the Texas Rangers.

“Obviously, Nelson’s had a good year. I’ve known him for quite a while,” Showalter said. “He’s been a good teammate. Right now, we’re focused on these next 30-odd games, and we’ll see [after that]. The people that are responsible for that and do that for a living, I’ll let them handle it. I’m concentrating on managing and trying to stay out of the way and keep things going in a good direction.

“Nelson’s one of the reason why we have this opportunity. Certainly, we’d like to have that continue. They ask me what I think about how things fit baseball-wise, but I don’t get into the financial part of it. The further we play and the more we do, the better chance [he stays], I guess.”

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette will face a number of critical decisions this offseason as Cruz isn’t the only impact player scheduled to become a free agent. J.J. Hardy will also see his three-year contract expire and figures to be in high demand with shortstop production at such a premium around the major leagues. The Orioles must also exercise a $17.5 million option to prevent longtime right fielder Nick Markakis from potentially becoming a free agent.

Wieters and Davis are also scheduled to become free agents following the 2015 season and could command lucrative contracts to remain in Baltimore.

Given the difficulty Cruz faced finding a new home following his 50-game suspension due to the Biogenesis scandal before signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles in spring training, he may feel a tad more loyalty than most players would after only signing a one-year contract. On the flip side, the Orioles must be careful not to overpay for a player who is 34 years old and not having a particularly strong second half of the season.

“I’m not in a rush right now. I just want to stay focused on what we have right now,” Cruz said. “Hopefully, we go where we’re supposed to go and get it done. We’d like it to be done before, but my main goal is to go to the playoffs.”

Comments (0)

Orioles recall infielder Paredes to take Gausman’s spot before Sept. 1

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Orioles recall infielder Paredes to take Gausman’s spot before Sept. 1

Posted on 28 August 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles took advantage of another procedural move Thursday by recalling utility infielder Jimmy Paredes from Triple-A Norfolk to take right-hander pitcher Kevin Gausman’s spot on the 25-man roster.

Just like lefty starter Wei-Yin Chen was optioned to the minors on Wednesday, Gausman was optioned to the Gulf Coast League Orioles but will be eligible to return as early as Friday since the rookie-level league is concluding its season on Thursday. Instead of making a 25-man roster move like they’ll need to do to recall Chen for his Sunday start, the Orioles will simply wait to recall Gausman to make his next scheduled start on Monday when rosters expand for the month of September.

The 25-year-old Paredes can play all four infield positions — though his strongest spots are at third base and second base — and the corner outfield spots while offering a speedy switch-hitting option off the bench. After playing with a three-man bench for several games, the Orioles will now benefit from having five positional reserves with backup catcher Steve Clevenger and Paredes being added in the last two days.

“He was probably coming up Sept. 1, anyway, and it was a way to get him here,” said manager Buck Showalter about Paredes. “It creates more depth. You never know what the game’s going to bring. You just want to be prepared.”

Paredes has been on the Orioles’ radar for a while as the organization initially claimed him off waivers in February. However, they unsuccessfully tried to sneak him through waivers to outright him to the minors, and he was claimed by Kansas City Royals a couple days later. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette acquired Paredes for cash considerations on July 24 and optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk.

After spending parts of three seasons with the Houston Astros, Paredes went 2-for-10 in nine games with Kansas City earlier this season. In 140 plate appearances with Norfolk, Paredes was hitting .258 with three home runs and 23 runs batted in.

In four major league season, Paredes has appeared in 54 games in left field, 50 at third base, 10 at second base, and one in right field. He is a career .233 hitter with three homers, 31 RBIs, 13 stolen bases, and a .272 on-base percentage in 406 career plate appearances in the majors.

Showalter confirmed he still plans to start Chen and Gausman on Sunday and Monday, respectively. The two starting pitchers are supposed to take work days with GCL pitching coach and former major league hurler Wilson Alvarez, according to the Baltimore skipper.

The Orioles announced Thursday that their Sept. 14 game against the New York Yankees has been moved from 1:35 p.m. to 8:05 p.m. after it was selected by ESPN to be the nationally-televised Sunday night game for the week.

Single-A Aberdeen catcher and Calvert Hall graduate Alex Murphy will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery and miss the organization’s instructional league. However, the 2013 sixth-round pick is expected to be ready to go for the start of spring training, according to Showalter.

Murphy was hitting .277 with three home runs and 25 RBIs for the IronBirds.

Former Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold was claimed off waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks after being designated for assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays earlier in the week. The 30-year-old hit .212 with two home runs and nine RBIs for Toronto.

Comments (0)

Orioles temporarily option Chen to minors to add extra bat off bench

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Orioles temporarily option Chen to minors to add extra bat off bench

Posted on 27 August 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles furthered their reputation for manipulating their roster as much as any club in the majors by optioning left-handed starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen to their Gulf Coast League affiliate and recalling catcher Steve Clevenger from Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday.

The procedural move provides another left-handed bat off the bench for manager Buck Showalter, but Chen will be allowed to be recalled for his regular turn to pitch against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday. Since the Gulf Coast League completes its season on Thursday, the Taiwanese lefty would be eligible to return to the majors the following day and would not need to wait the normally-required 10-day minimum in the minors.

Clevenger was hitting .305 with two home runs and 30 runs batted in in 64 games for the Tides this season. He hit .240 in 26 games for the Orioles earlier this year. The Orioles have been playing with a three-man bench since recalling right-handed pitcher Miguel Gonzalez and designating infielder Cord Phelps for assignment in Chicago on Sunday.

“We’ve been playing short a position player for a while,” Showalter said. “We thought this was an opportunity to take care of that problem and give us a better chance to win tonight. That’s what it’s about. And a better chance to win tomorrow night.”

Not factoring in the decision after his second-shortest outing of the season in Tuesday’s 4-2 win, Chen will pitch on regular rest despite Showalter briefly considering waiting to recall Chen until Monday when major league rosters will expand. The Orioles will need to make a temporary 25-man roster move to make room for Chen on Sunday.

Chen leads the Orioles with 13 wins and has posted a 3.76 ERA in 25 starts this season. The 29-year-old has allowed 158 hits, struck out 109, and walked 28 in 148 1/3 innings.

With Kevin Gausman, Bud Norris, and Miguel Gonzalez also possessing minor-league options and scheduled to pitch on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the Orioles may choose to send down other starting pitchers over the next few days should a need arise.

“We’ll consider anything that gives us a better chance to win the game that night and doesn’t jeopardize anything we’re doing in the future down the road,” Showalter said. “We’ll see what the game brings tonight. We’ll let each game dictate where we are and what our needs are.”

Machado surgery successful

Orioles third baseman Manny Machado underwent successful surgery to repair a partially-torn ligament in his right knee.

Machado traveled to Los Angeles Tuesday before Dr. Neal ElAttrache — who handled last year’s surgery on his left knee — completed the procedure early Wednesday morning. The 22-year-old is expected to remain in California for the next three weeks before either traveling to Sarasota to continue rehabbing or rejoining the Orioles for a while.

“Manny’s surgery went real well. That was good to hear,” Showalter said. “Doctors say everything went well [and] as expected, without mentioning the doctor’s name. They had a good [grasp on] what they thought was going to happen and what they thought they were going to find.”

The Orioles and Machado expect his surgically-repaired knee to be 100 percent and cleared before the start of spring training.

Bundy ready for “normal” offseason

Pitching prospect Dylan Bundy visited Showalter and the Orioles to discuss his offseason plan on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old right-hander has nearly recovered from the lat strain that landed him on the disabled list and prematurely ended his season pitching for Single-A Frederick. Bundy is expected to participate in the Orioles’ Sarasota minicamp in late January.

“The goal and the hope now for him is to have a normal offseason of a healthy pitcher,” Showalter said. “They talked about him ending the season active and marked as healthy just so he can start his offseason, which in some cases would be doing nothing for a while. I think that would be good for him.”

Bundy made his return in June from last year’s Tommy John surgery, going 1-3 with a 3.27 ERA in nine starts spanning 41 1/3 innings split between short-season Single-A Aberdeen and high Single-A Frederick.

O’Day receives his due

Right-handed relief pitcher Darren O’Day has been exceptional since arriving in Baltimore in 2012 and received some novel recognition with his own T-shirt (below) given to fans before Wednesday night’s game.

“I’m glad [he's] being recognized,” said Showalter, who wasn’t aware of the O’Day T-shirt prior to Wednesday. “If you just throw a blanket over all relief pitchers, you can make a case there’s nobody in baseball having a better year out of the bullpen than Darren O’Day. This year, it’s been left, right, switch-hitters, it doesn’t matter. Darren’s just been solid.

“When you get your ERA under 1.00 with those amount of appearances, you’re not sneaking up on anybody. They all know what he features; they all know what he’s trying to do.”

O’Day is 4-1 with a 0.94 ERA in 57 2/3 innings of relief work, which includes 61 strikeouts and 16 walks.

Comments (0)

markakis-game saver 8-20-14

Tags: , , , , , , ,

JUMP ON THE ROLLER COASTER

Posted on 26 August 2014 by Tom Federline

Thursday, August 21st – Birds up by 9 on the Spankee’s and 9 on the Boo Jays. Four (4) days later, August 25th – Birds up by 6 on the Spankee’s and 8 on the Boo Jays. Just when you start thinking - the Orioles (73 wins), might just be able to coast into the playoffs - BANG – O’s get  swept/outplayed by the Chicago…….Cubs (58 wins). That downer coming right after riding high sweeping the Chicago……….White Sox (59 wins).  Then to add salt into the wound, the Cubs sweep came at the hands of former Orioles, i.e. Jake “I’m on juice”" Arietta, Pedro “Strope Me Strope Me” and finally the guy who never pitched one inning for the O’s but collected a heckuva paycheck – “One hit” Wada. Up/down/hold on - roller coaster is at turn 1.

On top of being swept, lets add some more salt, O’s fans get the official news – Machado is gone for the rest of the year. Not that you didn’t know that already, especially if you had seen the knee buckle (live) that night. But you go, Orioles front office and media relations. You go, with your weak attempt to fill our minds with hope that it was only a “strained” ACL. The knee bent at almost a 45 degree angle and “it’s just a strain?” SO, during this past year we have learned Manny is not so “Mucho” Machado with week knees, week/slippery hands and bad aim. It’s a shame, Machado was just getting into playing shape, after missing preseason and over a month of the regular season. Machado threat gone joining the Wieters threat that was gone.  Down and further down – keep holding on through turn 2.

When the O’s are hitting, there are moments of, “Man - the Orioles may actually have a shot, they got this.” Unfortunately, those moments are to few and far between. But……….. those moments…… are there. The Orioles are still in first place of the American League East. They didn’t get there by luck. They don’t give up, they show sporadic confidence and even with the injuries they are fairly solid in the field. At least CC Sabathia is out for the year, so he can’t sabotage the O’s by taking Markakis out for this years playoff run. Up/Up and Up - getting ready for turn 3.

The dilemma is, they are probably going to need more game saving catches (Nick). They are going to need late inning wins and walk off home runs. They are going to need someone to pick up the offensive slack (Steve Pearce). They are going to need some serious staring pitching (Chen?Tillman). They are going to need some “lights out” relief pitching (O’Day/Britton). They are going to need some Orioles Magic (Buck-Buck). Down/Up/Down/Up - through turn 4.

Can the pitching save the Orioles? It’s going to have to. I’m feeling better about Cruuuuuuuuuz. If any team had a decent pitching coach, Jones would be out 90% of the time. Feed him down and away and he’s toast. Davis needs a shot of “juicy juice”. Brady – where are you? Isn’t that your job - ”Juice” without getting caught? Davis whiffs and the whole stadium feels a breeze, consistently. Can we get Mark Reynolds back? Whoops weak moment there – forget that one. When the opposing team gets  Markakis out - their odds of winning the game quadruple. There is minimal threat left in the line-up. Wieters gone. Machado gone. Davis – no threat. I’m a big fan of Delmon Young – we need to see more of him. At least he is a major league hitter. Coast/Down/Coast/Up - getting set up for the final stretch.

Then there’s the secret weapon – the manager. The O’s have a shot with Buck-Buck. Buck-Buck is going to keep these boys focused. One of the few criticisms I have on Buck-Buck is, I wish he would get tossed more. Yes, I was and always will be an Earl Weaver fan. It’s going to take the leadership of Buck-Buck, Markakis, Jones and Hardy. If the O’ lose another key player – we are not going to be on any roller coaster ride. So you have your choice – The O’s Rollercoaster or the “Love Rollercoaster” – (Ohio Players). Both rides affect the blood pressure and adrenaline levels. I recommend jumping on both. Go O’s!

D.I.Y.

Fedman

Comments (2)

Tillman quietly pitching like ace all summer for first-place Orioles

Tags: , , , , ,

Tillman quietly pitching like ace all summer for first-place Orioles

Posted on 26 August 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Five home runs and a sparkling defensive play by Adam Jones understandably drew the attention in the Orioles’ 9-1 win over Tampa Bay to snap a three-game losing streak Monday, but it’s been one of those seasons for starting pitcher Chris Tillman.

Improving his record to 11-5 and improving his streak of consecutive starts allowing three or fewer earned runs to 15, Tillman hasn’t received the same accolades he did a year ago when he was named to his first All-Star team. The 26-year-old doesn’t light up a box score with gaudy strikeout numbers, but his results have been consistent throughout the summer for the first-place Orioles.

“It comes back to being confident in my delivery,” said Tillman, who allowed one unearned run and three hits in seven innings against the Rays. “When you trust your delivery, you are not afraid to throw any pitch in any count.”

It was less than three months ago when Tillman’s mechanics were failing him as his early-inning woes knocked him out of games, making many wonder whether his impressive 16-win season from a year ago was more aberration than breakthrough. Following a disastrous one-inning start against Texas on June 5 — the second time in four outings in which he’d been chased before recording an out in the second inning — Tillman’s ERA had ballooned to 5.20, a mark higher than even that of the maligned Ubaldo Jimenez.

Whether it was finally getting over a nagging groin issue or simply working on repeating his delivery with pitching coach Dave Wallace, Tillman has been a different pitcher ever since while posting a 2.15 ERA in his last 100 2/3 innings spanning 15 starts. Only twice over the last 15 starts has Tillman failed to complete at least six innings, and the Orioles have gone 10-5 when Tillman has taken the hill over that stretch.

On Monday, Tillman lowered his season ERA to 3.41 and improved to 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in three starts spanning 21 innings against the Rays in 2014.

“One of the keys is you see him carry a crisp fastball early in the game,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s had that for a while now — knock on wood. That’s usually an indicator. And the curveball is of use to him. He can get it in there.”

After so much discussion about Oakland acquiring Jon Lester and Detroit trading for David Price while the Orioles did not add a top-of-the-rotation pitcher, Tillman’s 2.15 ERA over his last 15 starts — close to a half season — stacks up favorably to Price (2.08 in 117 innings) and Lester (1.89 in 104 2/3 innings) over their last 15 outings split between their former and current clubs.

Tillman’s inconsistent start to the season forced him to play catchup for much of the summer, but there should be no debating who would take the ball for Showalter in Game 1 of a playoff series. That wasn’t the case three months ago when some clamored for Tillman to be placed on the disabled list or even to be sent to the bullpen to straighten out his woes.

Of course, the tall right-hander hasn’t been alone as the Baltimore pitching staff has sometimes carried an uneven offense that entered Monday ranking last in the American League in batting average (.231) and on-base percentage (.284) since the All-Star break while still leading the majors in home runs. But Tillman has been at the head of the class in a rotation that may not scare you in the same way that Oakland’s or Detroit’s does, but it’s a group that continues to produce results just like Tillman did Monday night.

“Every fifth day, all our pitchers have been good,” shortstop J.J. Hardy said. “But every fifth day when he takes the mound, we feel like we have a great chance to win.”

Comments (0)

Struggling Jimenez finally heading to Orioles bullpen

Tags: , , , , ,

Struggling Jimenez finally heading to Orioles bullpen

Posted on 19 August 2014 by Luke Jones

Exactly six months after signing a four-year, $50 million contract to sure up the Orioles’ starting rotation in 2014, Ubaldo Jimenez is going to the bullpen.

Manager Buck Showalter announced Tuesday in Chicago that the struggling right-hander will now pitch in relief, paving the way for right-handed pitcher Miguel Gonzalez to retake his spot in the starting rotation for the first-place Orioles. Jimenez returned from the disabled list on Aug. 9 after being sidelined with an ankle injury for more than a month, but the 30-year-old allowed nine earned runs in 10 1/3 innings spanning two starts, continuing what’s been a disappointing first season in Baltimore.

The Orioles had hoped the injury layoff would afford Jimenez the opportunity to straighten out his mechanics as he leads the American League with 66 walks and is 4-9 with a 4.83 ERA in 20 starts. Instead, it became apparent that the veteran would not stick in a rotation that’s helped lift the Orioles to a 71-52 record and a 7 1/2 game lead in the AL East entering Tuesday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox.

Gonzalez was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Aug. 9 despite going 6-6 with a 3.80 ERA in 19 starts and 20 appearances overall in 2014. The emergence of 23-year-old right-hander Kevin Gausman in June was making in increasingly difficult for Showalter to try to manage six starting pitchers, a problem that was temporarily quelled when Jimenez went to the DL just before the All-Star break.

It’s unclear whether the Orioles will go with an extra arm in the bullpen or decide to option another reliever such as left-hander T.J. McFarland. Of course, rosters will expand on Sept. 1, which will make it easier to carry Jimenez on the roster as the Orioles seek their second postseason appearance in the last three years.

In spring training, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette envisioned Jimenez giving the Orioles a high-ceiling pitcher who wouldn’t be viewed as an ace but could pitch like a No. 1 starter for stretches of time like he had at other points in his career. Instead, Jimenez quickly settled in as the weak link in the rotation after signing the richest free-agent contract ever awarded to a pitcher in franchise history.

Of his 232 career appearances over nine seasons, the Dominican hurler has only pitched in relief once, his major league debut on Sept. 26, 2006.

Jimenez is under contract through the 2017 season.

Comments (0)