Tag Archive | "jake arrieta"

Standout prospect Gausman set to make major league debut on Thursday

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Standout prospect Gausman set to make major league debut on Thursday

Posted on 21 May 2013 by Luke Jones

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Less than a year after being selected with the fourth overall pick of the 2012 draft, Orioles pitching prospect Kevin Gausman is set to make his major league debut.

As first reported by FOX Sports, the right-hander will be promoted on Thursday to start in the opener of a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The Louisiana State product has made just 13 starts in his professional career but has captivated scouts and frustrated opponents with a devastating fastball-changeup combination as well as an improving slider.

In eight starts for Double-A Bowie this season, Gausman is 2-4 with a 3.11 earned run average over 46 1/3 innings. The 6-foot-3 pitcher allowed 44 hits, struck out 49, and walked just five as many expected him to arrive in Baltimore at some point this season.

The 22-year-old’s most recent start came on May 17 against Trenton when he struck out 10 and allowed just one earned run in six innings of work. Gausman had allowed two or fewer runs in each of his last five starts for the Baysox and Double-A hitters were batting .246 against him.

He was scheduled to make his next start at Akron on Wednesday, but the Baysox announced just before midnight on Tuesday he was being scratched.

In an interview with AM 1570 WNST last week, Gausman speculated that he’d need to string together 10 consecutive quality starts before he’d be in the running for a promotion. It turns out he was on the verge of making his final minor-league start — at least for now — at the time of the interview.

Baltimore’s starting pitching problems haven’t been a secret as Orioles starting pitching entered Tuesday’s game with a 4.85 ERA, ranking 11th in the American League. Gausman will become the 11th pitcher to start a game for the Orioles this season.

Having optioned right-hander Jair Jurrjens to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for the returning Miguel Gonzalez on Tuesday night, manager Buck Showalter said earlier in the day that Jake Arrieta and T.J. McFarland were the primary candidates to make Thursday’s start against the Blue Jays.

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Jurrjens becomes latest Orioles starter sent back to Triple-A Norfolk

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Jurrjens becomes latest Orioles starter sent back to Triple-A Norfolk

Posted on 21 May 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

BALTIMORE — With the Orioles needing to make a roster move to create a spot for the returning Miguel Gonzalez on Tuesday night, most assumed right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta would be the one to go, but right-handed starter Jair Jurrjens was instead optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.

Perhaps the news shouldn’t have come as a surprise as Jurrjens became the fifth starting pitcher this season to be optioned back to the minor leagues after making just one start in Baltimore. Manager Buck Showalter explained the need to keep Arrieta available in the bullpen with a certain amount of mystery remaining in Gonzalez’s return from a blister on his right thumb that’s kept him sidelined since his start in Anaheim on May 3. Jurrjens wouldn’t have been available to give the club length out of the bullpen on Tuesday, according to the manager.

Jurrjens joins Zach Britton, Steve Johnson, and Josh Stinson as pitchers promoted from Norfolk who were optioned after their only start with the Orioles this year.

“They’re all tough anytime you’re sending guys down,” Showalter said. “But, there are some people who didn’t think he would get that [opportunity] this year. I think he knows that we’ve shown him and our guys where we’re going when there’s a need. I hope not, but I’m sure there will be another need this year. It could be sooner rather than later.”

Making his 2013 debut last Saturday after going 4-1 with a 3.14 earned run average in eight starts with the Tides, Jurrjens allowed four earned runs and six hits in five innings of work. However, all six hits were of the extra-base variety as the 27-year-old struck out five and walked one but didn’t factor into the decision.

Jurrjens declined comment in the Orioles clubhouse after learning of his demotion. He would be eligible to return to the 25-man roster in 10 days barring an injury that would force someone else to the 15-day disabled list.

“We need length in our bullpen as most clubs do,” Showalter said. “As always we are going to lean on protecting our bullpen and pitching staff and keep the length down there.”

The decision leaves the Orioles without a starter for the series opener in Toronto on Thursday, but Showalter named Arrieta as well as left-handed long reliever T.J. McFarland as the candidates. Of course, Arrieta began the year in the starting rotation before being optioned to Norfolk after posting a 6.63 ERA in four starts with the Orioles. He was summoned back to Baltimore on Saturday to serve in a long relief role but has yet to appear in a game.

Arrieta experience some tightness in his right shoulder earlier this month and hadn’t made a start for Norfolk since May 7, but Showalter said they’ve provided the 27-year-old with some simulated game work since he was recalled.

Meanwhile, the 23-year-old McFarland has quietly turned heads with a 2.61 ERA in 10 appearances covering 20 2/3 innings. A Rule 5 pick out of the Cleveland Indians system, McFarland doesn’t impress you on the surface with his 87 mph sinker, but he’s struck out 22 while allowing 23 hits and seven walks in his rookie season.

While Showalter didn’t officially name his choice for Thursday’s game, his comments reflected that he was leaning toward McFarland, praising him for his work in long relief and mentioning the reward at this level is “an opportunity to do more.” The manager acknowledged that Arrieta would have the ability to go deeper into the game from a pitch-count standpoint but estimated that McFarland could give the club somewhere between 75 and 90 pitches.

McFarland hasn’t thrown more than 53 pitches in any of his 10 outings this season, making one assume the lower portion of that range would be more realistic.

Perhaps the biggest indicator of which way Showalter is leaning was mentioning how a pitcher fares in a certain ballpark — in this case, Rogers Centre in Toronto. Arrieta has a 7.31 ERA in three career starts in the building formerly known as SkyDome while the rookie McFarland has never pitched there.

Of course, Showalter could have simply been presenting a smokescreen while having every intention of giving Arrieta the ball on Thursday while keeping the Blue Jays — and the rest of us — guessing.

As has been the case all season, circumstances could change quickly should Gonzalez or Jason Hammel — or both — have short outings that would force either Arrieta or McFarland into relief action before Thursday.

NOTES: Regular center fielder Adam Jones served as the designated hitter for Tuesday’s game after dealing with some right leg soreness. The 27-year-old downplayed any injury and lobbied to play the field, but Showalter saw it as an opportunity for Jones to rest his legs while remaining in the lineup. … Nolan Reimold (right hamstring) may travel with the Orioles to Toronto and take early batting practice as he continues to work his way back from the disabled list. Showalter still anticipates sending Reimold to a minor-league affiliate for some at-bats before potentially making his return. He is eligible to return from the DL on May 27, but it would appear he won’t be ready until at least some time after that. … Backup catcher Taylor Teagarden (dislocated left thumb) could begin playing in extended spring training games as early as next Monday. … Struggling starter Jason Hammel told reporters he threw all fastballs in his bullpen session since he’s struggled to command both his four-seam and two-seam pitches at different points this season. He currently sports a 5.72 ERA in nine starts this season.

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Reimold placed on 15-day DL with hamstring strain; Arrieta recalled

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Reimold placed on 15-day DL with hamstring strain; Arrieta recalled

Posted on 18 May 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

BALTIMORE — Needing an extra arm in the bullpen and realizing a nagging hamstring injury wasn’t improving, the Orioles have recalled right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta and placed designated hitter Nolan Reimold on the 15-day disabled list prior to Saturday’s game with the Tampa Bay Rays.

As expected, starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens had his contract selected by the club in order for the right-hander to make his Orioles debut. To make room for Jurrjens, the Orioles optioned right-handed reliever Alex Burnett to Triple-A Norfolk and placed injured second baseman Brian Roberts on the 60-day DL to clear room on the 40-man roster.

Reimold’s hamstring has been bothering him since spring training and struggled to play through the cold weather of the early season with the back of the leg tightening up at various times, according to Showalter. The 29-year-old hasn’t played since last Saturday in Minnesota, meaning his DL stint is retroactive to May 12. Showalter is hopeful that the time off will remedy the hamstring strain but acknowledged it could take longer than the 15-day period since Reimold has dealt with the ailment for quite a while.

“I think he understands where we are and what we want to do,” Showalter said. “He’s not — I wouldn’t say — down. Obviously, no one wants to go on the DL. I can’t tell you whether this period will clean it up completely. I’m frustrated for him. I want to get as close to a perfect world for him [physically] as I can get. He’s a very capable contributor if we can just get him right.”

The expectation is that Reimold would get at-bats in a rehab assignment before making any return to the 25-man roster. Serving as the Orioles’ primary designated hitter this season, Reimold was hitting just .188 with four home runs and nine RBIs in 101 at-bats.

Steve Pearce, Nate McLouth, and Chris Dickerson have all seen time at the DH spot since last Saturday.

The need for an additional releiver was the result of a 12-run, 17-hit attack by the Rays against Friday starter Jason Hammel and four other relievers. Burnett allowed three earned runs in just 1/3 inning of work in the 12-10 loss.

Arrieta was scheduled to start for Norfolk on Saturday night and had dealt with shoulder tightness recently, but the 27-year-old completed successful bullpen sessions on Wednesday and Thursday to quell any significant concerns.

“I developed a little stiffness a few starts ago,” Arrieta said. “It’s something that has been manageable. They wanted to give me a few days — kind of push me back a little bit. I’ve stayed on top of it as much as I can.”

Manager Buck Showalter confirmed prior to Saturday’s game that Arrieta will pitch out of the bullpen for the time being. Of course, the enigmatic pitcher began the year in the starting rotation but was sent to the minors after going 1-1 with a 6.63 ERA in four starts for Baltimore.

As of now, veteran Freddy Garcia is scheduled to pitch against the New York Yankees on Monday, but Arrieta could conceivably become an option to take his place should he not be used in the bullpen over the next couple games.

In three starts for the Tides, Arrieta went 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA while striking out 17 and walking three in 19 2/3 innings.

 

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Ten Orioles thoughts with April in the books

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Ten Orioles thoughts with April in the books

Posted on 01 May 2013 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles concluding the opening month of the 2013 season by tying a franchise record with 16 wins in April, here are 10 thoughts to ponder as May begins:

1. Jason Hammel leads the club with four wins, but we’ve yet to see the 2012 version of the de facto ace show up this season. That’s not to say the right-hander hasn’t been one of the Orioles’ better starting pitchers, but the two-seam fastball that led to his renaissance last season hasn’t shown nearly the same bite through six starts this year. Despite a 3.79 earned run average, Hammel is averaging just 5.9 innings per start and his 5.3 strikeouts per nine innings is down dramatically from the 8.6 rate he held last season. Always possessing strong breaking stuff, Hammel needs to find a better feel for his two-seamer in order to make the rest of his repertoire more explosive. There was little debate that 2012 was a career season for Hammel prior to the knee surgery in July, but the Orioles didn’t actively pursue an impact starting pitcher with the thought — wise or not — that they had a pitcher with top-of-the rotation stuff. They’ll need better from Hammel over the next five months of the season.

2. Chris Davis’ historic opening-week start gained the most attention, but the free-swinging first baseman also collected 16 walks in April. His nine home runs have garnered plenty of press as opponents are pitching the left-handed slugger very carefully since the beginning of the season, but the walk totals have led many — including me — to praise Davis for an improved level of patience at the plate after he walked only 37 times during the 2012 season. However, the 27-year-old is seeing just 3.79 pitches per plate appearance after averaging 4.00 pitches per trip to the plate a year ago. Part of this can be explained by Davis’ strikeout rate decreasing (one every 3.5 at-bats compared to one per 3.0 at-bats last year), but it also indicates his walk numbers may not be sustained as his bat inevitably cools off at different points in the season. Regardless of just how much more patient Davis has become at the plate or not, it’s difficult to dispute how much of a force he’s become since the beginning of last season, making his acquisition in the Koji Uehara deal in 2011 a brilliant one by former president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.

3. The decisions to let go of Mark Reynolds and Joe Saunders weren’t the problem, but electing not to replace them is looking more and more like a mistake. Anyone who expects the former Orioles first baseman to continue hitting .300 like he did in his first month with Cleveland will likely be disappointed, but his eight home runs would look very good in the Baltimore lineup right now. Considering Orioles designated hitters batted .144 and posted a .502 on-base plus slugging percentage in April, Reynolds occupying that role or first base — with Davis handling the other — would be a major boost to the lineup. Meanwhile, Saunders pitched a complete game against the Orioles on Monday night but has been abysmal away from Safeco Field (12.51 ERA) so far. As I said during the offseason, letting go of Reynolds and Saunders was fine if the intention was to upgrade each of their spots and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette expressed the desire to acquire a middle-of-the-order bat and a veteran starting pitcher. However, neither of those goals were accomplished and that could continue to plague the Orioles throughout 2013.

4. Zach Britton turned in a poor 2013 debut, but his quick demotion sends the wrong message to the organization’s young pitchers. No one expected the 25-year-old left-hander to have a long leash given the higher expectations in Baltimore these days, but I can’t subscribe to the idea of sending down a pitcher who you hope will fit into your future after only one rough start. This creates the impression that young pitchers looking for their chance in Baltimore need to be perfect, which isn’t a mindset conducive to being successful. I also wonder what kind of message it sends to Norfolk manager Ron Johnson and pitching coach Mike Griffin, who gave their recommendation for Britton to be the next call-up after Josh Stinson’s failed start last week. A spot start for an organizational depth guy like Stinson or even a journeyman like Freddy Garcia is fine, but if the expectation all along was for Britton to only receive one chance, the club would have been better served leaving him in Norfolk and not messing with his head. Again, allowing six earned runs in six innings was far from acceptable, but it wasn’t the type of disastrous outing that warranted an immediate exit.

5. It’s safe to say Nolan Reimold has yet to adjust to his new role as the club’s primary designated hitter. Reimold has two home runs, five RBIs, and a 1.029 OPS in 29 plate appearances as the club’s left fielder, but the 29-year-old has posted an ugly .477 OPS with one homer and two RBIs in 52 plate appearances while serving in the DH spot. The problem for Reimold is the remarkable play of Nate McLouth, who has been more productive at the plate and is better defensively in the outfield. Manager Buck Showalter can’t justify taking McLouth out of left field, so Reimold needs to adjust to his new role, which can be difficult for individuals accustomed to being in the game as a defensive player. The good news for Reimold is that he’s remained healthy after undergoing spinal fusion surgery last year, but the Orioles must get better production from the designated hitter or will need to begin looking at other options for the role. It’s fair to acknowledge he’s still regaining strength and is adjusting to not having quite as much range of motion in his neck after the surgery, but Reimold would be the first to tell you he needs to be better at the plate.

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Familiar predicament emerging in back end of Orioles rotation

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Familiar predicament emerging in back end of Orioles rotation

Posted on 24 April 2013 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The writing was on the wall for the Orioles after starting pitcher Jake Arrieta’s early struggles made it apparent he wasn’t going to stick in Baltimore.

As was the case for large portions of last season, the rotation carousel is in full motion as right-hander Josh Stinson was the first to receive an opportunity just a few weeks after being claimed off waivers from the Oakland Athletics. The 25-year-old had gone through that process two other times in the last year, giving off the impression that he’s talented enough to want but not good enough to keep for the long haul.

Manager Buck Showalter chose Stinson over other candidates Zach Britton and Freddy Garcia — citing positive reviews from Triple-A Norfolk manager Ron Johnson and Tides pitching coach Mike Griffin — and was asked whether this was a one-shot opportunity for the right-hander or if he would receive an extended look spanning a few starts. The Baltimore skipper’s response was familiar, especially when remembering the Orioles used 12 different starting pitchers last season.

“I’m looking at it as, ‘We’ll see,’” Showalter said. “Ask me after Wednesday if it was one shot. Would you like to have [only] one shot in the big leagues? I hope not. I hope he pitches well and he pitches again Monday in Seattle.”

It didn’t happen as Stinson was immediately optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk following the 6-5 extra-inning loss to Toronto to end a 6-3 homestand. Stinson showed a few impressive breaking pitches at different points but allowed four home runs and was lifted in the sixth inning. Another opportunity in Baltimore could lie ahead, but it’s clear Stinson will have to work his way back up the pecking order to do so.

Next man up to the plate — or to the hill, in this case.

As for Monday’s start, the Orioles will likely be looking at the same candidates they did this time around as these decisions are often based strongly on the timing of the start and how it coincides with the schedule of the Norfolk rotation. The club will call up an extra arm to pitch out of the bullpen for the next few days, but Mike Belfiore, their only reliever at Norfolk who is currently on the 40-man roster aside from Alex Burnett, hasn’t pitched well to begin the season. Burnett was optioned on Wednesday and isn’t allowed to be recalled for 10 days unless he is replacing a player sent to the disabled list.

Considering they’d only be bringing up a reliever for a few days, the Orioles would like to avoid making a 40-man roster move if possible.

The Orioles could also elect to simply recall Britton or select the contract of fellow Norfolk starter Jair Jurrjens and give that pitcher a couple innings on either Thursday or Friday, which would prevent an additional roster move and serve as a vessel to adjust their scheduled day to start to fall on Monday in Seattle. Garcia pitched on Tuesday night and would be going on only one extra day of rest if he’s deemed the guy for Monday, but he wouldn’t provide the same flexibility to pitch out of the bullpen for at least an additional day.

Right-hander Steve Johnson would earn strong consideration for the start under normal circumstances, but he just started a rehab assignment in Triple A on Wednesday, allowing four earned runs in five innings of work against Charlotte.

The options are there, but finding a good one is the real challenge. If any of these pitchers were proven solutions, they’d likely already be part of the Baltimore rotation or pitching elsewhere in the big leagues.

Despite the improved stability of the starting rotation entering spring training, you knew the Orioles would find themselves in this spot sooner rather than later. Their best hope is that one of the many candidates they have in the farm system can emerge in the way Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman did last year.

Until then, let the plethora of roster moves begin.

End of extras streak

An incredible stretch of 17 consecutive wins in extra-inning games in the regular season came to an end on Wednesday as closer Jim Johnson walked in the go-ahead run in the 11th inning.

It was the third straight day Johnson had pitched, but his outing started strongly enough by recording three straight outs. With two outs in the 11th, he allowed two soft singles and plunked Brett Lawrie before completely losing his command and walking Maicer Izturis on four pitches to force in Toronto’s sixth run.

Some questioned whether Showalter should have sent Johnson to the mound, but the reliever had experience pitching on three straight days — doing it on a couple occasions last year — and his previous pitch counts (14 on Monday and 13 on Tuesday) were reasonable enough to put him in the game in an extra-inning situation. Perhaps Showalter is only guilty of not having Brian Matusz ready to go sooner than he did when Johnson ran into trouble.

Regardless of Wednesday’s disappointment, the streak is a reflection of the outstanding bullpen work this club has received for more than a year. Many will focus on the All-Star performance of Johnson as well as setup men such as Darren O’Day and Brian Matusz, but a variety of contributors — from long relievers to current first baseman Chris Davis — have taken the hill in extra innings and performed at a high level since last April.

The 17-game winning streak in extra frames — which didn’t include their 12-inning loss to the New York Yankees in last year’s American League Division Series — left them tied with the 1949 Cleveland Indians for the second-longest run in major league history.

Setting up for the ninth

Johnson leads the major leagues with 66 saves since Sept. 7, 2011, but he can thank O’Day and Matusz — particularly the former — for playing such pivotal roles in getting him there.

O’Day is 2-0 with a 0.36 earned run average covering his last 23 appearances (including the postseason) that spanned 25 innings. The Orioles were 19-4 in those 23 games. Opponents are hitting just .111 (9-for-81) with one home run and eight singles over that stretch.

Those numbers are a major reason why the Orioles awarded O’Day with a two-year, $5.8 million contract in the offseason.

Matusz has also thrived in a relief role since being recalled last August, excelling when it comes to cleaning up messes created by his teammates.

The left-hander relieved Johnson in the 11th and retired Rajai Davis to strand the bases loaded and leave the Orioles trailing by only one. Remarkably, he hasn’t allowed an inherited runner to score since moving to the bullpen last August. He’s stranded 10 inherited runners on base this year and has prevented all 24 inherited runners he’s encountered since the start of the 2012 season from scoring.

Many — including me — wondered whether the Orioles were making the right decision in immediately sending Matusz back to the bullpen after failing to earn a starting job in spring training. With the overall uncertainty in the back end of the rotation, it seemed wise to keep Matusz stretched out in case you needed him as a starter, but it’s difficult to argue with the overwhelming results in his late-inning role.

Odds & ends

Showalter clarified that right-hander Dylan Bundy will not see Dr. James Andrews until next Monday. The 20-year-old will be examined by team orthopedic Dr. James Wilckens in Baltimore on Thursday. He examined Bundy back on April 2 and the initial MRI came back clean in regards to his right elbow. … The Orioles bullpen threw 9 2/3 scoreless innings in the series before Johnson issued the two-out, bases-loaded walk in the 11th inning to break a 5-5 tie. … The four homers allowed by Stinson were the most ever surrendered by a pitcher making his club debut. The last Baltimore starter to give up four home runs in an outing was Jason Hammel against Toronto on May 30, 2012. … Center fielder Adam Jones went 1-for-5 and has reached base safely in 20 of the club’s 21 games to begin the 2013 season. He has at least one hit in 19 of those contests. … The Orioles are now 4-4 in one-run games after finishing with an incredible 29-9 record in that department last season.

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Orioles recall Burnett, option struggling Arrieta to Triple-A Norfolk

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Orioles recall Burnett, option struggling Arrieta to Triple-A Norfolk

Posted on 22 April 2013 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — What appeared inevitable became official Monday afternoon as the Orioles optioned struggling starter Jake Arrieta to Triple-A Norfolk prior to the beginning of a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Needing an extra arm in the bullpen after playing three games in two days over the weekend, the club recalled right-handed pitcher Alex Burnett from Norfolk. He is expected to pitch out of the bullpen until manager Buck Showalter needs a starting pitcher for Wednesday’s series finale against the Blue Jays. The Baltimore skipper prefers not to go to a three-man bench with the upcoming 11-game trip to the West Coast.

The 27-year-old Arrieta was 1-1 with a 6.63 earned run average and had walked 16 batters in 19 innings of work spanning four starts after winning the final spot in the Orioles’ starting rotation this spring. Spotted an early 3-0 lead, Arrieta only completed four innings in Sunday’s 7-4 loss to Los Angeles after walking five batters and suffering his first loss of the season.

“I wasn’t doing my job well enough. That’s the bottom line,” he said. “The team needs me. They need me to be better. That’s the bottom line, really.”

Both Arrieta and Showalter have talked about the pitcher’s inability to handle his emotions and anxiety when he runs into trouble on the hill. The problem is whether that can easily be remedied against inferior competition and lesser stakes.

Showalter stressed several times that Arrieta’s demotion was a product of the club needing relief help, but the manager also acknowledged the struggling pitcher’s part in creating such a scenario. For now, the Orioles will continue to have Arrieta work as a starter and will not consider a move to the bullpen in the same way that they did with Brian Matusz last season.

“With a guy with Jake, stuff-wise, there isn’t a wrong pitch,” Showalter said. “You put a finger down, there’s not one that’s a whole lot better than the other. A lot of times I wish I could let Jake hit off of Jake and have a little different look at it.”

Claimed off waivers from Toronto on April 12, Burnett was 4-4 with a 3.52 ERA in 71 2/3 innings covering 67 appearances for Minnesota in 2012. Burnett figures to only be here a short time before the Orioles decide who will make Wednesday’s start.

There are essentially three candidates: left-hander Zach Britton and right-handed starters Josh Stinson and Freddy Garcia. Of the three, Garcia is the only one not currently on the 40-man roster.

Britton (1-0, 1.98 ERA) would be pitching on an extra day of rest after making his last start on Thursday while Garcia (2-0, 3.57 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for the Tides on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, Stinson (1-0, 1.32 ERA) was recently sent to Single-A Frederick to pitch out of the bullpen on Saturday, but that was done to keep him nearby in case the Orioles needed an extra arm for Saturday’s doubleheader against the Dodgers.

Burnett was 1-0 in three scoreless appearances for the Tides this season and will wear No. 68.

Here are Monday night’s lineups…

TORONTO
SS Munenori Kawasaki
LF Melky Cabrera
RF Jose Baustista
1B Edwin Encarnacion
DH Adam Lind
C J.P. Arencibia
CF Colby Rasmus
3B Brett Lawrie
2B Emilio Bonifacio

LHP J.A. Happ (2-1, 5.06 ERA)

BALTIMORE
RF Nick Markakis
3B Manny Machado
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Chris Davis
SS J.J. Hardy
DH Steve Pearce
LF Nolan Reimold
2B Alexi Casilla

RHP Chris Tillman (0-1, 7.07 ERA)

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Drew’s Morning Dish — Mon., April 22

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Drew’s Morning Dish — Mon., April 22

Posted on 22 April 2013 by Drew Forrester

It’s amazing how dramatically different Baltimore football and baseball fans are when it comes to criticizing their players.

Joe Flacco goes 17-30 for 282 yards and 2 TD’s and 1 INT in a 23-16 win and all everyone talks about is the one pick he threw or the two short passes he dumped over the head of Ray Rice.

And that’s in a win, mind you.

Flacco gets raked over the coals after virtually every performance of his, good or bad.

Jake Arrieta, meanwhile, can’t throw seven innings of quality baseball and somehow his starts are poo-poo’d with fan responses like, “He has great stuff, though.  We can’t give up on him now” or “He was great in last year’s season opener against the Twins, remember that one?”

Maybe it’s because there’s a baseball game every night.  If we took to criticizing a player’s performance every single night, we’d drive ourselves batty.

In football, you play on Sunday and then we spend the next 2-3 days breaking it all down and telling you how much you stink even though we don’t have much of an idea of what we’re really looking at, honestly.

Arrieta just isn’t getting any better.

That’s it in a nutshell.

I don’t think he’s getting worse.

But from start-to-start, he’s not improving enough to warrant keeping him around.

He knows it, too.

Hope you find a good coffee shop in Norfolk, Jake.

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That should just about do it for Rolando McClain’s career in Baltimore.

The worst part about his Sunday night arrest?  The headlines on the national sports web pages say, “Ravens McClain arrested in Alabama”.

He’s not REALLY on the team.  He has a contract for 2013, yes, but it’s a stretch to even say he’s on the team at this point.

His arrest brings embarrassment to the Ravens just by association alone.

I know, I know, “he gets his day in court” and all of that other fancy wordsmithing that’s code word for: “If he somehow isn’t found guilty, we can still keep him around”.

Anyway, no one is surprised by his Sunday night arrest, right?

I’m not.

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Barring an almost unthinkable collapse, the Capitals are going to win the Southeast Division.  They have a 3-point lead on Winnipeg with three games to play and all three of the Caps’ remaining games are in D.C., including a big one on Tuesday against the Jets.

The Caps might even get a rare playoff break if the Islanders hang on to 6th place in the Eastern Conference.  Washington can handle them, I think, in the first round of the post-season.

Then again, the Islanders have played good hockey over the last three weeks and have gone from the outside-looking-in to a team that appears as if they’re getting hot at the right time.

I don’t know who it will be, but someone along the way will put the Caps out of their misery between now and the end of May.

I honestly don’t care who eliminates them as long as it’s not the Flyers.

What’s that, you say?

Oh, the Flyers didn’t make the playoffs this season?

What a shame…

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Mark Reynolds has 7 HR’s for the Indians this season.

You knew that was going to happen, though.

If he stays healthy, he’ll have 35 homers for Cleveland in 2013.

Then again, they do have one more series with the Astros this season, right?

Make it 40 homers.

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Is it me or is there not an overwhelming amount of excitement for college lacrosse so far this spring?

Maybe it was the lengthy winter and the cool weather that stuck around here until the second week of April.  I don’t know, I could be wrong here, but I just haven’t felt a buzz in the air for college lax like we usually do by now.

Then again, no one in the state has a really, really good team.  Everyone has a couple of losses, at least.  Maybe that’s it.

 

 

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Your Monday Reality Check: Arrieta’s struggles make second guessing easy

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Your Monday Reality Check: Arrieta’s struggles make second guessing easy

Posted on 22 April 2013 by Glenn Clark

When you see a meme or GIF image posted @WNST on Twitter, it was regularly posted by me. I often know the source of the meme/gif or sometimes make them on my own, but regularly see one being passed around via Facebook or Twitter (I admittedly haven’t gotten involved in Reddit just yet but know it makes me a dinosaur) where the source cannot be identified.

So when I post them on our account, I’ll often say something like “take credit if yours.” It’s my little way of saying “I don’t know the origin of this, but if I find out soon I’ll be sure to offer credit where the credit is deserved.” Many times that leads to a direct response from the creator of said image which allows me to send out another message offering credit to the person who is deserving. It’s an imperfect science as we all continue to learn about social media etiquette, but it has proved effective thus far.

Sadly, there’s a well known idiom that dates back perhaps as much as a century whose creator seems unknown. I can’t imagine social media will be of any help this time.

The idiom is “hindsight is 20/20.”

It’s a very simply concept. 20/20 is nominal vision, as a person standing 20 feet from someone reads it as if they were standing 20 feet from the object. “Hindsight is 20/20″ reflects the notion that when you look back on something that already occurred, it can always be seen in ideal vision. I’m not certain what level of vision someone would be described as having in foresight, but I would tend to doubt it would even be as good as 20/40.

The idiom was fresh in my mind while watching Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Jake Arrieta crumble in the fifth inning of Sunday’s 7-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Arrieta walked OF Skip Schumaker and OF Carl Crawford on four pitches each, sandwiching a plunking of SS Justin Sellers between. The passes brought Arrieta’s BB total to five for the day (while recording only 12 outs). A Mark Ellis two run single would end Arrieta’s outing, his line would show five earned runs after being handed four runs over the first four innings by his own offense.

For Arrieta, the story has been all too familiar this season. In four starts, he has allowed 16 BB and 14 earned runs. The lack of control and elevated pitch counts have lead to the starter pitching an average of just under five innings per start (19 total innings pitched), however remarkably the Birds have gone 3-1 in the span.

Following Sunday’s start, O’s manager Buck Showalter described the pitcher’s issues as being emotional. “Emotions effect mechanics” the skipper noted, comparing Arrieta’s emotional state to putters in golf who struggle when overwhelmed. Arrieta described his lack of control Sunday as “frustrating”, “unacceptable” and flat out “bad”. He noted “this isn’t me…this really isn’t something I’ve ever done at this rate” in terms of free passes.

To his credit, he’s right. To his discredit, it doesn’t matter.

Showalter and GM Dan Duquette now have a difficult decision to make regarding their struggling starter. Arrieta still has options left, meaning they could make a move in the coming days to bring up a starter from Norfolk (they have a decision to make Wednesday already following their doubleheader Saturday). Such a move would perhaps allow Arrieta to get back to the AAA level and work on his control, but it would seem obvious that the starter would likely dominate a lower level of hitting.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Roberts still not back to baseball activity; Orioles-Rays lineups

Posted on 16 April 2013 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed what was already assumed on Tuesday that second baseman Brian Roberts will not be activated from the 15-day disabled list when he becomes eligible on Saturday.

In Sarasota since last week, the 35-year-old is improving in his recovery from what the club has labeled a hamstring strain. Roberts tore a tendon behind his right knee in the third game of the season against the Tampa Bay Rays and has yet to resume baseball-related activities.

With Roberts shelved, 26-year-old Ryan Flaherty has handled the bulk of the work at second base, going 2-for-24 with one home run in seven games. Utility infielder Alexi Casilla has gone 3-for-11 when given his opportunities at the position.

In other injury-related news, pitchers Steve Johnson and Tsuyoshi Wada are each scheduled to throw in Sarasota on Thursday. If all goes well, Johnson could be sent on a minor-league rehab assignment as he moves closer to a return from the back injury he’s dealt with since March.

With Tuesday’s starter Jake Arrieta off to a poor start in his first two outings, the Orioles will be watching Johnson’s status closely as he could find an opportunity in the back end of the starting rotation sooner rather than later. Showalter expressed his wish that Arrieta simply provide the club a chance to win whenever he takes the hill, but the 27-year-old appears to be on a short leash already after allowing eight earned runs and six walks in his first two starts covering 10 innings.

“It doesn’t always follow a script like I’ve said too many times,” Showalter said. “Last year started out great [for him] and then had some challenges. Hopefully, he’ll get a little better each time out and give us a chance to win every time he takes the hill. We’re kind of living in the moment when he’s concerned. All of our pitchers are.”

Showalter expressed a desire for Arrieta to pitch deeper into games as he completed only five innings against Minnesota in the home opener and left last week’s start at Fenway that lasted five innings before a 43-minute rain delay ended his evening prematurely.

Here are Tuesday night’s lineups…

TAMPA BAY
CF Desmond Jennings
DH Kelly Johnson
2B Ben Zobrist
3B Evan Longoria
LF Matt Joyce
SS Yunel Escobar
1B James Loney
C Jose Lobaton
RF Sam Fuld

RHP Roberto Hernandez (0-2, 6.08 ERA)

BALTIMORE
LF Nate McLouth
3B Manny Machado
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
1B Chris Davis
C Matt Wieters
SS J.J. Hardy
2B Ryan Flaherty
DH Nolan Reimold

RHP Jake Arrieta (0-0, 7.20 ERA)

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Starting rotation performance headlines Orioles’ uneven start

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Starting rotation performance headlines Orioles’ uneven start

Posted on 08 April 2013 by Luke Jones

Before anyone goes off the deep end over the Orioles’ 3-4 start to the 2013 season, consider this your much-needed reminder that it’s early.

It’s very early, in fact, as Baltimore has completed just over four percent of the 162-game schedule. That’s the equivalent of the Ravens approaching the end of the third quarter of their season-opening game if you needed a football comparison to put it in the proper context.

But issues have already begun to arise, specifically with the injuries to Wilson Betemit, Nolan Reimold, and Brian Roberts that have left designated hitter and second base as early albatrosses in the lineup. Ryan Flaherty is 0-for-14 to begin the season and Steve Pearce has yet to collect a hit in his first 10 at-bats after securing the final spot on the 25-man roster at the end of spring training.

Fortunately in Reimold’s case, the Orioles are hoping the 29-year-old outfielder will be ready to return to the lineup as early as Wednesday after leaving Sunday’s game with a tight hamstring.

The bullpen experienced a hiccup against Tampa Bay and a Chris Davis error contributed to Jim Johnson taking the loss in Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, but there’s little other evidence to suggest the group won’t be up to the task this season. It just might not be as dominating as it was a year ago with a plethora of relievers pitching at their absolute best for the better portion of six months.

After going 29-9 in one-run games last year, the Orioles have dropped their first three contests decided by one run, but no one could have reasonably expected the club to repeat that type of a historically-efficient performance.

The biggest concern – again, based on a week’s worth of games – has been the starting pitching with both the numbers and, more importantly, the eyeball test. Though Wei-Yin Chen pitched well in a 3-1 loss to the Red Sox on Monday, the Orioles entered Tuesday ranked last in the American League in starters earned run average at 5.45.

Of the seven outings turned in by the starting five, only three have been quality starts (if you subscribe to the minimum requirements of six innings pitched and no more than three earned runs allowed being anything special). The numbers don’t mean much when you’re not even through the rotation a second time, but the eyeball test raises bigger concerns.

De facto ace Jason Hammel is struggling to command both his four-seam and two-seam fastballs, a deadly combination that baffled opposing hitters prior to the knee injury that largely derailed his 2012 season. He hasn’t looked like the dominating pitcher he was in the first half last season and his lower strikeout numbers (five in 12 2/3 innings pitched) confirm that.

The Orioles need Hammel to be the veteran standing at the front of the rotation and not just another pitcher in the starting mix.

Chen’s 3.75 ERA is perfectly acceptable, but the same issue of running out of gas right around the 85-to-90 pitch range that we saw last year has resurfaced in his first two starts. Entering the seventh inning having thrown 87 pitches on Monday, Chen gave up a three-run homer to Daniel Nava before departing with one out.

Many will criticize Buck Showalter for not pulling the Taiwanese lefty sooner, but the manager likely wants to see if Chen can add another gear for the late innings or whether this is as good as it gets for the 27-year-old. Entering Monday, Chen had pitched to a 7.42 ERA after the sixth inning in his major league career. If that’s the best the club can expect when the lefty approaches 90 pitches and beyond, it’s difficult to view Chen as anything better than a fourth starter for the long haul.

Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez appeared the best of any starter the first turn through the rotation, but Showalter has elected to push the 28-year-old’s next start back to the Yankees series, citing a desire to give him a few extra days of rest. That action sounds prudent in August and September, but it raises a red flag this early in the season despite the manager insisting there are no health concerns with Gonzalez.

If making a start every fifth day is a challenge already, you have to wonder how much the Orioles can expect from Gonzalez over an entire season.

Jake Arrieta? He looked very much like the same Arrieta we’ve seen in past seasons on Friday, pitching well in spurts but allowing a four-run fourth inning to derail his overall outing. It’s the same inconsistency that landed him out of the rotation and in the minor leagues midway through last season.

The 27-year-old power arm figures to have the shortest leash of any of the current starters.

Coming off the 15-day disabled list to make his first start against Minnesota on Saturday, Chris Tillman was all over the place and looked nothing like the successful pitcher we saw in the second half of last season in allowing five earned runs and walking four in 3 2/3 innings. It was one start, but it won’t quiet those who question whether the 24-year-old’s 2012 campaign was more fluke than transformation.

It’s a very small sample size — just like this piece is one of many that will examine the various stages of the season – but these seven games will count as much as any seven-game stretch over the course of the year. It’s not a definitive indictment or a final verdict by any stretch of the imagination but rather an honest assessment of what we’ve seen so far.

The injuries and shortcomings in the lineup and questions of how closely the bullpen can match its 2012 performance are all manageable concerns if the starting rotation rises to the occasion like it did for the final two months last season. Showalter said countless times this spring that the Orioles will only go as far as their starting pitching will take them.

And with the club sporting a 3-4 record in the first week of the season, the very early return in that department has been underwhelming.

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