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Gausman recalled by Orioles to serve in relief role for now

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Gausman recalled by Orioles to serve in relief role for now

Posted on 24 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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BALTIMORE — The same need that led to rookie pitcher Kevin Gausman’s departure less than two weeks ago has now brought him back to the Orioles for the time being.

Following Freddy Garcia’s short outing against the red-hot Toronto Blue Jays and long man T.J. McFarland’s 4 1/3 innings of work on Sunday that left manager Buck Showalter without the necessary length in the bullpen, the Orioles elected to option Garcia to Triple-A Norfolk — the 36-year-old has 72 hours to accept the assignment or become a free agent — and to recall the 2012 first-round pick to serve in a relief role.

“[Garcia] can stay with us and go to Triple A or [try to go to another team],” Showalter said. “I’m hoping he stays. He’s done some good things for us. He’s had his challenges, but he came and did as advertised.”

The Orioles will need a starter for Friday’s series opener against the New York Yankees, and Gausman appears to be the primary candidate if he doesn’t need to be stretched out over the first two games of the Cleveland series.

McFarland will be unavailable for at least the first game of the Cleveland series and likely the second, meaning Zach Britton and Chris Tillman will need to pitch effectively in order to keep Gausman in line to pitch on Friday night. An inning or two of work wouldn’t be out of the question considering Gausman hasn’t pitched in a game since last Wednesday, but a longer outing than that likely takes him out of the running for a start this time through the rotation.

Gausman made one start for Triple-A Norfolk, allowing seven earned runs and 10 hits in six innings of work. However, the right-hander said he spent the outing working on a few new tricks, including moving over to the third-base side of the rubber against left-handed hitters.

Of course, he left Baltimore with a good taste in his mouth after allowing just two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings in an extra-inning game the Orioles eventually won on June 13. Showalter said at the time that Gausman’s demotion was solely about needing an extra reliever in the bullpen after a 13-inning game.

“I left on a good note. I had a good meeting with Buck and [pitching coach Rick Adair] when I left,” Gausman said prior to Monday’s game. “They told me [at the time] they needed an arm and you have some things you need to work on.”

Gausman is 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA in five starts for Baltimore this season but pitched well in two of his last three starts with that success coming against two first-place clubs in Detroit and Boston.

The Orioles manager acknowledged that he would have preferred leaving Gausman at Norfolk a little longer to work with Tides pitching coach Mike Griffin, but Garcia’s stint that lasted only 2 1/3 innings made it necessary to add another arm to the bullpen and Gausman was the only man available for the job. Should the Orioles need to use Gausman for extensive work on Monday or Tuesday, McFarland becomes a stronger candidate to make Friday’s start against New York, according to Showalter.

“How we pitch as starters dictates a majority of these moves, not only by the length you get but by how [you] pitch,” Showalter said. “Same thing with every team. The team that consistently goes deep into ballgames with their starters, they play in October. It’s as simple as that.”

Asked about the status of Japanese lefty Tsuyoshi Wada after he allowed two earned runs in five innings of work for Norfolk on Sunday, Showalter labeled Wada’s last two outings as “competitive” but added that the 32-year-old wasn’t ready to be considered a candidate for Friday’s start in Baltimore.

In other rotation news, left-hander Wei-Yin Chen threw a four-inning simulated game in Sarasota on Monday without any setbacks as he moves closer to his return to action. The plan is for Chen to complete a workday in Baltimore this week before starting a minor-league rehab assignment on Saturday that would likely last a minimum of five innings.

Depending on how he feels after that first start, Chen could be activated from the 15-day disabled list as early as next week, which would put him in line to make two starts for the Orioles before the All-Star break. Chen hasn’t pitched since May 12 after suffering a strained right oblique.

“We’ll see how Rick and everybody feels after his workday and after — hopefully — a rehab start,” Showalter said. “We’ve got three clubs who are home. He’ll do that at either Norfolk, Bowie, or [Single-A] Frederick. I’d like to see him get through the work here and the workday before we get a feel for how he does the next time out in the uncontrolled environment.”

Second baseman Brian Roberts (right hamstring surgery) will begin his rehab assignment with Norfolk on Tuesday, and Showalter said he will lean heavily on the 35-year-old infielder to determine when he’s ready to be activated. The assignment will last a minimum of three games but could go longer if necessary, according to the manager.

Meanwhile, outfielder Nolan Reimold (right hamstring) will continue his rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie as both he and the organization decided it was best for him to receive some more at-bats with the Baysox. He is just 2-for-21 with with three RBIs and eight strikeouts in six games since beginning his stint at Double A last week.

Right-handed pitcher Dylan Bundy still isn’t throwing off a mound but has progressed to throwing from 120 feet as he continues his progression. Showalter said the 2011 first-round pick continues to feel good with his throwing after he was shut down with right forearm discomfort earlier this season.

In order to provide better protection for first baseman Chris Davis in the lineup as well as to alleviate pressure on the struggling Matt Wieters, shortstop J.J. Hardy was moved up to the sixth spot in the order and the Orioles catcher was placed in the No. 7 slot. In 276 plate appearances this season, Wieters is hitting just .229 with nine home runs and 37 RBIs.

This year’s first-round pick, Hunter Harvey, was at the ballpark Monday to meet with the organization and take his physical after agreeing to terms on a deal late last week. The 18-year-old was the 22nd overall pick of the draft and is the son of former major league closer Bryan Harvey.

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Garcia’s miserable June putting Orioles rotation in bigger bind

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Garcia’s miserable June putting Orioles rotation in bigger bind

Posted on 23 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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

Many celebrated the official start of summer over the weekend, but Orioles pitcher Freddy Garcia must wish the calendar had never turned over from May to June.

His horrendous outing in a 13-5 loss to Toronto on Sunday was his third start of the month in which he allowed five or more runs and left his record for June at 1-3 with a 10.19 earned run average covering four starts and one relief appearance. In 17 2/3 innings this month, Garcia has allowed nine home runs.

Garcia lasted just 2 1/3 innings on Sunday as he gave up seven earned runs before giving way to long reliever T.J. McFarland.

It was May 30 when Garcia turned in his best outing of the year with eight shutout innings in a 2-0 win over the Washington Nationals, but his body of work ever since has been nightmarish for the Orioles, who are already dealing with their fifth starter job being in flux. Left-hander Zach Britton will receive Monday’s start against the Cleveland Indians, but his standing in the rotation is tenuous at best after he earned his first win in 5 1/3 innings of work in Detroit last week.

How much longer can the Orioles afford to go with Garcia? His leash wasn’t exactly long when he was pitching at his best last month, but manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette may not find a better immediate option to allow Sunday to be the last start made by the 36-year-old.

The good news is left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is scheduled to pitch in a simulated game on Monday, which will allow him to potentially begin a minor-league rehab assignment next weekend. The bad news is that means Chen won’t be ready to make his potential return to the Orioles until the first week of July at the earliest and that’s only assuming the 27-year-old won’t experience any hiccups between now and then. Chen has been sidelined since May 12 with a strained right oblique.

Of course, rookie Kevin Gausman’s name will be mentioned, but his first start for Triple-A Norfolk in which he allowed seven earned runs in six innings didn’t make an emphatic statement for him to be brought back to the majors immediately as most assumed he would. It would be surprising not to see the 22-year-old in Baltimore sooner rather than later, but Showalter also expressed a desire for Gausman to work on some mechanical issues with Tides pitching coach Mike Griffin when he was sent down earlier this month.

Japanese left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada started for Norfolk on Sunday, allowing two earned runs in five innings of work, but have two solid starts against Triple-A hitters erased the memory of his immense struggles during his rehab assignment that forced the Orioles to convince Wada to give his consent to be optioned to the minors? Wada walked two and struck out none on his way to throwing 91 pitches in completing only five innings in a 4-3 loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday.

There appear to be no other current options at Norfolk that make sense.

Jair Jurrjens? He has a 5.60 ERA in three starts this month.

Josh Stinson? His 4.74 ERA in 12 Triple-A starts this season isn’t the answer.

Steve Johnson remains in Sarasota as he recovers from a strained left oblique and just began a throwing progression.

Looking back at the big-league roster, there’s always McFarland, whose name has come up as a starting candidate on a few occasions this year. However, the Orioles have refrained from removing the Rule 5 selection from his long-relief role to this point. The 24-year-old lefty gave up five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings on Sunday, but he’s pitched respectably over the course of his rookie season.

Beyond that and focusing on the big picture of contending in the American League East, the Orioles are in search of starting pitching help as names such as Miami’s Ricky Nolasco, Houston’s Bud Norris, Minnesota’s Mike Pelfrey, and even former Oriole Joe Saunders have been thrown out there as potential targets. However, these opposing clubs are fully aware that the Orioles need rotation help and it would be unwise to overpay for marginal pitching talent more than a month away from the trade deadline.

Regardless of whether it’s Monday or two weeks from now, it appears Garcia’s time is running out with the Orioles, which isn’t very surprising when remembering how he was available at the end of spring training on a minor-league deal.

But it doesn’t ease the Orioles’ starting pitching headaches for the immediate future.

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Tillman continues to thrive on road with another victory

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Tillman continues to thrive on road with another victory

Posted on 19 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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

Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman wasn’t carrying his good stuff during his start on Wednesday, but a familiar pattern developed in his five innings of work before Baltimore blew the game wide open in a 13-3 win in Detroit.

As has been the case several times this season, Tillman struggled early as he threw 47 pitches through the first two innings before settling in to pitch more effectively. The 25-year-old told reporters after the game in Detroit that he lacked any feel for his pitches for most of the afternoon as he was pulled in the sixth inning after giving up a leadoff single and a walk to start the inning.

T.J. McFarland came on and allowed a two-run double — with both runs being charged to the starting pitcher — but it didn’t spoil the fact that Tillman once again gave the Orioles a great chance to win despite not being on top of his game. Tillman allowed three earned runs and seven hits in his five innings while walking three and striking out one.

In 15 starts this season, Tillman is 8-2 with a 3.71 earned run average and has struck out 69 while walking 32 in 87 1/3 innings. He’s allowed 83 hits and 16 home runs, the latter ironically being a career-high total.

It’s a stark contrast from a couple years ago when it seemed Tillman was only capable of being successful on the mound when all of his pitches were clicking for him. At that point in his career, Tillman appeared to lack the ability to cope and regroup when things weren’t going his way and he’s credited his maturity as well as a few adjustments made to his delivery last year for the career turnaround.

Tillman appeared to be trying to largely get by with his fastball against the Tigers, but there have also been plenty of times when he’s used his cutter effectively when his fastball wasn’t going where he needed it to. It’s been a nice development for a pitcher often criticized earlier in his career for throwing a four-seamer that didn’t have enough movement.

He improved to 6-0 on the road and has allowed only 13 earned runs in 42 1/3 innings (2.76 ERA) away from Oriole Park at Camden Yards this season. The right-hander is 2-2 with a 4.60 ERA in eight starts spanning 45 innings at home.

Dating back to July 4 of last year, Tillman is 17-5 with a 3.32 ERA in 173 1/3 innings covering 30 starts. He’s arguably become the club’s most reliable member of the Orioles rotation and will consistently provide a solid-to-good outing just about every trip to the mound.

It’s remarkable to think that Tillman was barely on the club’s radar at this time a year ago, but he’s now become a pitcher you generally feel good every time he goes to the mound.

Gausman roughed up in Triple-A debut

Manager Buck Showalter warned last week that the return of right-hander Kevin Gausman immediately after the 10-day waiting period wasn’t guaranteed and the 22-year-old’s Triple-A debut didn’t exactly make a statement on Wednesday that his return should be imminent.

Pitching in the opener of a doubleheader for the Tides, Gausman allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits in six innings as he took the loss in an 8-1 loss to Indianapolis. He struck out four and walked one while throwing 90 pitches, 59 of them strikes.

Gausman allowed a three-run homer in the sixth inning and also uncorked a wild pitch in the disappointing outing.

While acknowledging that Gausman was optioned to Triple A out of necessity after a 13-inning win over Boston in which the Orioles wore out their bullpen, Showalter acknowledged that the demotion would also give Gausman a chance to take a deep breath and make a few mechanical adjustments with Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin.

“I didn’t tell him, promise him [he'd be brought back immediately],” Showalter said last Friday. “I made sure he understood he could conceivably stay there the rest of the year. It’s all in his hands. We have other people we like, too.”

Gausman would be eligible to be recalled to Baltimore as early as Monday after the 10-day waiting period expires, but left-hander Zach Britton made his own statement for remaining in the rotation after a solid outing against the Tigers on Tuesday. Britton allowed one earned run in 5 1/3 innings to earn his first win of the season.

As for the rotation plans in Toronto this weekend, Jason Hammel will make his return to the hill on Friday, which will be his first start since last Wednesday after he dealt with the effects of a nasty stomach bug over the last week. A returning Miguel Gonzalez will start on Saturday and is expected back with the Orioles on Thursday night after his wife gave birth to their daughter Monday night.

Showalter hasn’t announced a starter for the series finale on Sunday, but he mentioned Britton and Freddy Garcia as the primed candidates. Garcia pitched a scoreless inning in relief on Wednesday afternoon.

Better pitching of late

Despite scoring a season-high 13 runs in Wednesday’s win over the Tigers to take two out of three and complete the season series against Detroit with a 4-2 record, the Orioles received another solid pitching performance against one of the most formidable lineups in the league.

It continued a recent trend in which the Orioles have received improved starting pitching and the bullpen has continued to thrive in the late innings. Baltimore has allowed 3.6 runs per game over their last 10 contests against the Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox, and Detroit, going 7-3 over that stretch against three potent offenses.

The Orioles also made a major statement over the last week in taking three of four against Boston and winning the three-game series over the Tigers. This season, Baltimore is 12-5 against Boston, Detroit, and Oakland, the three first-place clubs in the American League right now.

As Nuke LaLoosh of “Bull Durham” would say, that’s what you call announcing your presence with authority.

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Orioles’ starting rotation remains in flux for next several days

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Orioles’ starting rotation remains in flux for next several days

Posted on 14 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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

BALTIMORE — Trying to figure out what the Orioles’ starting rotation will look like over the next week is anybody’s guess.

That includes manager Buck Showalter, who certainly will be prepared for all possibilities and options in front of him but is waiting for factors out of his hands to play out. It started with the need to option rookie Kevin Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk after Thursday’s 13-inning affair and continues with the uncertainty surrounding right-handed pitcher Miguel Gonzalez, who is slated to start on Saturday but is on call as his wife could give birth to the couple’s daughter any day.

“We’re kind of in the mode of, let’s see what tonight brings and smoke clears and see what presents itself,” Showalter said prior to Friday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox.

All we know is right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta was recalled to provide a fresh arm and length in a taxed bullpen that pitched 7 2/3 innings in the Orioles’ 5-4 win in the series opener Thursday night. How long he’ll be here is anybody’s guess, but you wouldn’t expect Arrieta to be here for more than a day or two considering he’s struggled mightily for the Tides recently, allowing 15 earned runs and 19 hits in his last two starts covering 10 1/3 innings.

Since Arrieta last pitched on Sunday, he was the freshest of the arms in the Norfolk starting rotation and is the best immediate fit, according to Showalter. You could conceivably see Arrieta optioned back to Triple A as soon as the conclusion of Friday night’s game if he needed to be used behind starter Chris Tillman.

Showalter also confirmed what most assumed about Gausman’s demotion in that it was solely based on the need in the bullpen after every reliever other than right-hander Pedro Strop pitched in the 13-inning game. The manager made that clear to the 22-year-old, but that doesn’t guarantee Gausman will return to Baltimore as soon as possible, either.

“If we had played nine innings, [Gausman] would have stayed,” said Showalter, who revealed Gausman will indeed travel to Norfolk and not remain in Baltimore despite Gonzalez’s shaky status. “I told him that last night — probably a little too up front about it. I also told him there were no assurances. The good side of it is, he leaves with a good outing and it gives him a chance to take a deep breath and kind of think about some things.”

After being optioned, Gausman is required to remain at Triple-A Norfolk for at least 10 days unless he is replacing a player placed on the 15-day disabled list. With Gonzalez’s unique situation in which he will be placed on the paternity list, the Orioles would be allowed to recall Gausman before the 10-day window concludes. Gonzalez’s wife is not due to give birth until June 19, making it uncertain whether he could be removed from the roster in time for Gausman’s turn in the rotation slotted for Tuesday.

In addition to Arrieta, Showalter also mentioned long reliever T.J. McFarland and Triple-A lefty Zach Britton as potential options for Sunday or Tuesday’s start in Detroit. Gausman is among the candidates for that start in Detroit should the Orioles have the means to return him to the roster, but Showalter made it clear there’s no guarantee that Gausman will be back for that start or even immediately following the expiration of the 10-day waiting period.

That’s good news for a pitcher like Britton, who has allowed only seven earned runs in 31 innings (2.03 ERA) over his last five starts for the Tides. He last pitched on Monday, meaning he would be a logical candidate for Sunday if the need arises or could conceivably work out of the pen for a day or two and be available for Tuesday. Should he get the ball against the Tigers and pitch well, he could remain in Baltimore for at least the foreseeable future while Gausman continues to hone his craft at Triple A, a level where he’s never pitched.

“We’ll see what the needs are going to be here,” said Showalter, who mentioned that Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin will work on a few specific points of emphasis with the 2012 first-round pick. “I told [Gausman] to go down there and present himself as an option for us. It’s all in his hands. We have other people that we like, too, and that’s good to know. That’s a good feeling. He could go down there and pitch well and present himself as a good option and still not [be back]. That’s kind of the way it works.”

As if the starting rotation wasn’t in enough flux, Jason Hammel came down with a virus Friday morning and was not at the ballpark for the second game of the series against the Red Sox. Fortunately, he is not scheduled to pitch again until Monday and the club hopes the illness will have run its course by then.

The way things are going for the starting rotation, you just hope no one steps on a nail at this point. Bonus points to you if you were able to figure out that reference.

In other rotation-related news, left-hander Wei-Yin Chen will throw 35 pitches off a full mound in Sarasota on Saturday. If all goes well, he could rejoin the Orioles on the next road trip to continue his rehab work, but Showalter said there are “a lot of hurdles” before the Taiwanese pitcher is back on the mound for the Orioles.

Outfielder Nolan Reimold will begin his minor-league rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie on Tuesday, according to Showalter. He completed a series of sprints with no setbacks in what was viewed as a final test for the right hamstring injury he’s nursed since spring training.

Second baseman Alexi Casilla took batting practice and was available without any real limitations for Friday’s game, according to Showalter. He’s dealt with a jammed right index finger since the finale of the Tampa Bay series last weekend.

Brian Roberts held up well after taking batting practice Thursday and was taking grounders at second base prior to Friday’s game as he continues rehabbing his surgically-repaired right hamstring.

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Orioles’ decision to option Gausman about immediate need in bullpen

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Orioles’ decision to option Gausman about immediate need in bullpen

Posted on 14 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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

You may have been surprised to learn that Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk despite allowing just two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings of the 13-inning marathon win on Thursday night.

His demotion has very little to do with his performance in his fifth major league start as the Orioles are in need of an extra bullpen arm after the group pitched 7 2/3 innings Thursday night and has three more games against the heavy-hitting Red Sox at Camden Yards this weekend. Baltimore will announce the corresponding move prior to Friday night’s game.

The 2012 first-round pick allowed two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings against Boston, striking out five and allowing six hits. The only blemishes on his night came in the fourth inning when David Ortiz and Mike Carp hit solo home runs off the right-hander. In five starts with the Orioles, Gausman is 0-3 with a 7.66 earned run average, 20 strikeouts, and six walks in 24 2/3 innings.

Gausman would be required to stay in the minors for a minimum of 10 days before he can return to the big leagues, but there could be a way to get him back on the 25-man roster sooner than that. In addition to the possibility of another pitcher being placed on the 15-day disabled list — which would waive the 10-day waiting period for the rookie — the Orioles will be placing starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez on the paternity list at some point in the near future.

Scheduled to make his next start on Sunday, Gonzalez has told reporters his wife’s due date falls on June 19. If the birth of Gonzalez’s daughter comes a day or two early, Gausman would be a prime candidate to replace Gonzalez upon the latter being placed on the paternity list. Of course, that circumstance is out of the Orioles’ hands and is not something they can count on as the possibility exists that he won’t even make the start against Boston should his wife go into labor even earlier.

As for which pitcher the Orioles are likely to promote, left-hander Zach Britton appears to be a very logical choice. He last started for Norfolk on Monday, meaning he would be able to pitch a few innings out of the bullpen if required on Friday night. He could also be on call to replace Gonzalez for Sunday’s start should the right-hander receive word from his wife over the next day or two. And if Gonzalez does make his start against the Red Sox, Britton could take Gausman’s turn in the rotation Tuesday in Detroit, a place where he had a tremendous outing in what was otherwise a very disappointing 2012 season for the 25-year-old.

For what it’s worth, Britton has been very good in his last five starts for the Tides, allowing seven earned runs in 31 innings (2.03 ERA) and posting a 2-1 record. Beyond the numbers, the narrative reports on Britton from Norfolk manager Ron Johnson and pitching coach Mike Griffin have been very favorable, according to Orioles manager Buck Showater.

Of course, Britton’s potential promotion is just a guess and certainly not the only pitcher to which the Orioles could turn. Norfolk pitchers Josh Stinson and Jair Jurrjens are scheduled to make starts in a doubleheader Friday night, so both of them could be candidates to pitch out of the bullpen as well.

We’ll find out for sure by Friday afternoon.

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Gausman optioned to Triple-A Norfolk following Thursday start

Posted on 14 June 2013 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced after Thursday’s game that they have optioned RHP KEVIN GAUSMAN to Triple-A Norfolk.

Gausman, 22, has made five starts for the Orioles, going 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA (24.2IP, 21ER), 20 strikeouts and six walks. He did not receive a decision in Thursday night’s 13-inning win over Boston when he went 5.1 innings and allowed two runs while striking out five without allowing a walk.

A corresponding roster move will be announced before Friday’s game.

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Gausman’s home debut shows off talent Orioles hope will play now

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Gausman’s home debut shows off talent Orioles hope will play now

Posted on 02 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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

BALTIMORE — Contrary to what many will say following Kevin Gausman’s home debut in a 4-2 win over the Detroit Tigers Sunday, his six strong innings against a powerful lineup don’t yet prove the Orioles’ decision to promote him after eight Double-A starts was the right one.

In the same way, definitive proclamations that the Orioles had made a mistake calling up the 2012 first-round pick after an 11.00 earned run average in his first two starts were premature with Gausman just getting his feet wet in the big leagues.

But Sunday’s outing against arguably the best offense in the major leagues showed the kind of talent that had the Orioles so giddy and willing to see if he could help their winning cause despite the 22-year-old still being in the midst of his first full professional season. A day after the Tigers pounced on Jason Hammel and the Orioles bullpen for five homers and 10 runs, Gausman held Detroit to just one earned run and five hits for the first quality start of his career.

“I felt comfortable,” said Gausman, who credited a bullpen session with pitching coach Rick Adair in which they tinkered with his mechanics and focused on keeping the ball down in the strike zone as the main reason for the turnaround. “Today was probably the most polished and calm I’ve been out there since I’ve been up.”

In addition to not walking a batter over six innings, Gausman recorded 12 ground-ball outs including two double plays induced with Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera at the plate. Working with a fastball consistently hitting 95 miles per hour for most of the afternoon, Gausman found another gear in his final inning of work when he threw several sinking fastballs clocked at 97 against Cabrera, retiring the 2012 Triple Crown winner on a called strike three to end his day after six.

It was all part of his revised plan after pitching up in the zone far too often in his first two starts, especially against Washington when he surrendered three home runs.

“Get on top more, have more of a downward plane on my ball, and get back to getting ground-ball outs,” Gausman said. “That was something big for me. It’s huge to get ground balls, double plays, and quick innings.”

The early concerns about Gausman weren’t eliminated entirely with the strong performance as the right-hander only had four strikeouts and seven swinging strikes over the course of the outing. His slider was improved from his first two starts but remains more of a novelty than the impact breaking pitch needed to go along with an exceptional fastball-change combination.

Gausman appeared to be heading toward a shorter outing early in the game as Tigers hitters continued to foul off pitches and work deep counts at an alarming rate despite the rookie facing the minimum number of hitters over his first two innings. In the second, a nine-pitch at-bat that resulted in a swinging strikeout of Prince Fielder and a eight-pitch battle with Jhonny Peralta that ended with a groundout contributed to Gausman’s pitch count standing at 42 after two frames.

You can certainly argue that Gausman’s command was so good that hitters weren’t able to do much damage aside from Fielder’s solo home run in the fourth, but he still appears to lack that put-away pitch necessary for collecting strikeouts and keeping his pitch count a bit lower in those situations. The power pitcher has only nine strikeouts in his 15 innings of work in the majors after striking out 49 in 46 1/3 innings at Double-A Bowie.

However, it would be difficult to dispute that Gausman got stronger as the game went on, evident by his increased velocity and two strikeouts in his final inning of work. He retired the final six batters he faced before turning the game over to the bullpen for the seventh inning.

“I look at the positive side that his stuff was so good that they fouled a lot of balls off,” manager Buck Showalter said. “You go back through how many fouls balls there that they couldn’t quite square him up. You can tell by body language of the other team. I say a lot of times, they’ll tell us how he’s doing. You can tell by the body language.”

Showalter said in the aftermath of Gausman’s poor showing against the Nationals last week that you can’t hide it for long if you’re good enough to play in the big leagues and the rookie rewarded the Orioles’ confidence by bouncing back against a lineup known for crippling opposing pitchers. The manager credited the Louisiana State product’s confidence and reminded us once again that what Gausman lacks in professional experience is complemented by his time pitching in the highly-competitive Southeastern Conference.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that Gausman is ready to swim at this level and the talk of him being sent back to the minors is gone for good, but Sunday showed more than enough to see why the Orioles and talent evaluators are so high on the 6-foot-3 pitcher.

An uneven major league debut against Toronto and an ugly start against the Nationals weren’t going to change their opinion that easily.

“He’s talented — that’s the thing,” Showalter said. “As much as you talk about a lot of other factors that affect guys, he’s talented. He’s got a good hand, which allows him to do some things with the baseball. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him.”

His six innings of work not only gave the Orioles a chance to stage a late comeback with a three-run seventh inning but prevented a repeat of Saturday’s blowout in which the bullpen needed to work six innings following Hammel’s ejection.

It was a critical factor in the Orioles’ series win over the defending American League champions and sent them to Monday’s off-day at seven games above .500 as they begin a six-game road trip. Perhaps even more exciting about the outing was the glimpse at what the future may hold as the Gausman experiment continues for at least another start or two.

“I just tried to put my team in position to win,” Gausman said. “I just tried to keep the ball down. This was a big series win for us.”

It sounds so simple, but Gausman gave the Orioles everything they could have reasonably asked for on Sunday.

Now, the challenge will be doing it again the next time out.

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Gausman will make next start against Tigers on Sunday

Posted on 29 May 2013 by Luke Jones

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

The beginning of starting pitcher Kevin Gausman’s major league career hasn’t exactly gone as planned, but the Orioles are sticking by the rookie for now.

Despite allowing seven earned runs over four innings in a 9-3 loss to the Nationals on Tuesday, Gausman will make his scheduled start against the Detroit Tigers Sunday in Baltimore. Manager Buck Showalter confirmed the club’s plans after Gausman allowed three home runs while suffering his second loss in as many starts in the majors.

Though walking only one in his Tuesday outing, Gausman struggled to command any of his pitches, leaving several up and over the heart of the plate against the light-hitting Nationals. His fastball velocity remained in the mid- to upper-90s, but his off-speed stuff rarely fooled Nationals hitters as the 22-year-old failed to strike out a batter.

“There are nights when guys who have been here for a while struggle,” Showalter said. “Pitching in the big leagues is hard. And he’s got the talent to do it and eventually he will. And I look forward to it being the next time out. He knows mistakes get magnified here, but it’s part of the process.”

Through two starts, Gausman has posted an 11.00 earned run average over nine innings while striking out five and walking three. The right-hander has also allowed four home runs — he allowed only three in eight starts at Double-A Bowie — and 15 hits.

It’s clear the Orioles need to see a better return from Gausman much sooner rather than later for him to remain in the big leagues, but Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette are right not to pull the plug as quickly as some are suggesting they should. The Baltimore manager’s point is fair and a knee-jerk demotion after two starts would not only show a complete lack of faith in the organization’s talent evaluation — which would be another problem entirely — but it would reflect a lack of confidence in what was a bold decision to begin with.

If promoting Gausman was the right choice in which Duquette and Showalter believed — and it’s clearly not looking like a good decision so far — then two starts aren’t enough to accurately assess what you have. Otherwise, the move would have reeked of desperation and a lack of direction. And the same principle would hold true if Gausman would have thrown consecutive shutouts in his first two starts and observers were ready to send him to Cooperstown.

However, the days of allowing a young pitcher to go to the mound for a dozen starts with no accountability for the results are over as the Orioles view themselves as a viable contender. The club sent a message that it felt Gausman was the best of the available options in the minor leagues, so the rookie needs to produce enough to reflect that.

It’s apparent that Gausman still has plenty of improvement to make on his slider — a pitch the organization has acknowledged is a work of progress — but sharper command of his fastball and changeup would give him the ability to compete at this level and provide the Orioles with a good chance to win. If he can’t do that, his opening stint in Baltimore won’t last very long.

Gausman’s home debut won’t be easy on Sunday as he takes on an imposing Detroit lineup that entered Wednesday ranked first in the major leagues in runs, batting average, and on-base percentage.

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Your Monday Reality Check: No more “aw shucks” for this team of Buck’s

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Your Monday Reality Check: No more “aw shucks” for this team of Buck’s

Posted on 28 May 2013 by Glenn Clark

Do you remember what Baltimore felt like the morning after the 2009 AFC Championship Game?

I most certainly do. After a long, freezing cold night in the upper deck at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Drew Forrester and I hit the airwaves on the show now known as “The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction” the moment we arrived back in Charm City. We fielded a number of calls relating disappointment and frustration about the Ravens’ loss. We fielded a few calls from people who were shuffling to cancel their planned trips to Tampa Bay for the Super Bowl XLIII. We fielded a ton of calls from people who simply hated the idea of losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But more than any of those, we fielded a number of calls along the lines of this.

“Man…that was such a tough way for the season to end. But what a season it was. I never thought the Ravens would make it to their first AFC Championship Game since the Super Bowl year with a rookie quarterback and a first year head coach. I have so much hope for this team moving forward.”

Remember that feeling? Now do you remember what the feeling was like less than 12 months later when the Ravens fell 20-3 to the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC Divisional Playoff game?

I’ll give you a hint. The response wasn’t quite as forgiving. The response was more along the lines of “I’m not sure Joe Flacco is good enough for the biggest moments and John Harbaugh was completely outclassed.”

Three seasons later the reaction seemed a bit humorous but at the time it was undoubtedly genuine.

I wanted to take you for this trip down memory lane for some perspective about the 2013 Baltimore Orioles and the “elephant in the Warehouse” at the moment, closer Jim Johnson.

It’s not hard to remember the feeling surrounding the Baltimore Orioles after their ALDS Game 5 defeat at the hands of the New York Yankees. There was a very similar feeling in Charm City at that point. Hundreds of fans returned to Oriole Park at Camden Yards to welcome back the Birds, fans took to social media to explain how meaningful the unexpected playoff run was for them and others began to imagine what the postseason appearance would do for building the future of the team.

Things are shaping up to be much different in 2013.

What do you think the reaction to the Baltimore Orioles will be if the team again fails to get out of the Division Series this season? What if unlike in 2012 they were to lose the Wild Card Game this time around? What if they were to fall short in the final week of the season?

In case you were wondering, there were no reports of hundreds of fans waiting for the Washington Capitals outside Verizon Center after their Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers this year in the NHL Playoffs despite the fact that the Caps had won the Southeast Division.

The O’s are now under a significantly different microscope than they were a season ago. The panic from O’s fans surrounding this stretch of four blown saves in five opportunities for Johnson isn’t unreasonable…it’s understandable.

It isn’t acceptable for Orioles fans to think that one of those four games could end up being the difference in making the playoffs or not, the difference in going back to the Wild Card Game or winning the AL East. It isn’t acceptable for Orioles fans to imagine the inability (other than Jason Hammel Monday) of Orioles’ starters to get deep in games to be the difference in whether or not the bullpen has anything left for a September push. It’s unacceptable for Orioles fans to imagine the lack of a #1 starter being the reason why a team with a qualified ace like Justin Verlander or C.C. Sabathia could take them out in a five game series.

That particular scenario is all too familiar.

The struggles of Jim Johnson cannot be dismissed by Orioles fans, nor should they be dismissed by anyone inside the Orioles’ organization. It is honorable that Johnson’s teammates and manager Buck Showalter are standing by him publicly during his struggles,   but they cannot afford to have the “aw shucks” mentality behind closed doors.

This organization has to be approaching a breaking point when it comes to Johnson. They have to be keeping a close eye on whether or not Kevin Gausman is capable of quickly moving past “exciting prospect” and towards “legitimate seven inning starting option.”

What they can’t do is act as though none of these things are legitimate concerns. They’re major concerns. They’re not likely to doom the Orioles at this point in the season, but they could very well make the difference in whether or not this team can surpass their 2012 accomplishments.

There simply won’t be a parade to celebrate “The team that may have made the World Series had it not been for the starting pitching that couldn’t make it deep enough into games and keep the bullpen rested.”

At least I don’t think so.

-G

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Orioles option Arrieta to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for Gausman

Posted on 23 May 2013 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles today announced that they have selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Kevin Gasuman from Double-A Bowie and optioned right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta to Triple-A Norfolk. To make room for Gausman on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Alex Burnett has been designated for assignment.

Gausman, 22, was the Orioles’ 1st round selection (#4 overall) in the 2012 First Year Player Draft out of Louisiana State University. He is scheduled to make tonight’s start in Toronto and will become the third member of his draft class to play in the majors, joining left-handed pitcher Paco Rodriguez (No. 82 overall, LAD) and left-handed pitcher Michael Roth (No. 297 overall, LAA). Gausman made eight starts for Double-A Bowie this season, going 2-4 with a 3.11 ERA (46.1IP, 16ER), posting four Quality Starts. He entered the 2013 season as the Orioles’ No. 2 prospect according to both Baseball America (also the #26 overall prospect in baseball) and MLB.com (No. 36). He will wear No. 37.

Arrieta, 27, did not pitch after being recalled on May 18. He went 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA (19.2IP, 6ER), 17 strikeouts and three walks in three starts for the Tides after being optioned on April 22. He was 1-1 in four starts with the Orioles earlier this season.

Burnett, 25, has made two appearances for the Orioles, allowing three earned runs in 1.1 innings.

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