Tag Archive | "kevin gausman"

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tillman ready for next step as Orioles’ postseason ace

Posted on 01 October 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Just a few years ago, not many would have believed Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman would be the one taking the ball for the opening game of a playoff series.

Acquired with outfielder Adam Jones as the centerpieces of the Erik Bedard trade in February 2008, Tillman carried a career 5.58 ERA in 36 starts over his first three major league seasons in which he shuffled back and forth between Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk. The struggles left him as an afterthought in many minds as the Orioles embarked on what turned out to be a surprising 2012 season that resulted in their first postseason appearance in 15 years.

It wasn’t until that July that Tillman finally got another chance in the rotation and established himself as a major league starter by going 9-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 15 starts. Even with Tillman having such an impressive second half, manager Buck Showalter elected to send him to the bullpen in the 2012 playoffs where he did not pitch.

Last year, he established himself as the staff ace and was named to his first All-Star Game. And after being named the Opening Day starter for the first time earlier this year, Tillman will take another step in his dramatic progression by making his postseason debut against the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the American League Division Series Thursday night.

“It has been a journey, to say the least,” Tillman said. “I had a couple of rough years early on and kind of turned things around come 2012. I think that goes to show where the organization is at, not just personally, but all the way throughout. … For myself, like I’ve always said, it’s a big puzzle, and you’re trying to find the pieces to it and put the puzzle together.”

Completing his second consecutive 200-inning season and posting a 20-start streak of allowing three or fewer earned runs that wasn’t snapped until his final outing of the regular season, Tillman’s final 2014 numbers that included a 13-6 record with a 3.34 ERA weren’t such a sure thing as late as early June. Slow starts in the early innings and poor fastball command led to Tillman holding a 5.20 ERA through his first 13 starts.

His early-inning pains and a lingering groin issue led many to wonder if a market correction was finally taking place after his superb 1 1/2 years, but the 26-year-old instead made adjustments and went on the most successful run of his career, posting a 2.38 ERA over his final 21 starts to not only silence doubters but make it an elementary choice for Showalter to choose him as the Game 1 starter against the Tigers.

“He’s just a really hard worker. I know his talent is really immense,” catcher Nick Hundley said. “I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves for how good he is. It’s a tough game. You don’t roll out here and put up Nintendo numbers like he has the last three or four months without being really good.”

Tillman will be opposed by 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, leading many to overlook the tall right-hander once again, but his numbers since early June suggest he is as dangerous as any starting pitcher remaining in the postseason. The only question will be how he responds to the limelight of his first playoff appearance, but Tillman is often praised by teammates and coaches alike for his even demeanor, which should allow him to handle what’s sure to be a raucous crowd at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

For the California native, it’s just another step and just another start, even while anticipating some butterflies.

“The only difference is the stakes are higher. I take every game the same way,” Tillman said. “They’re all important. There is not one that’s less important than the other. Once the game starts and the bell rings, that’s where we’re comfortable as a team. Might have extra feelings before the game, be nervous, but if you’re not nervous, you need to find another job.”

Hot corner, hot topic

When asked about how he anticipated handling the third base position, Showalter wasn’t tipping his hand Wednesday as the Orioles have given starts to Ryan Flaherty, Jimmy Paredes, Kelly Johnson, and Alexi Casilla at the hot corner since Chris Davis was suspended for amphetamine use on Sept. 12.

The growing pains have been clear as the Orioles had appeared to settle on Davis as their regular replacement for the injured Gold Glove winner Manny Machado before the slugger was banned for 25 games, a stretch that makes him ineligible until the ninth game of the postseason should the club advance. Baltimore made seven errors at third base over the final 10 games of the regular season.

“I feel confident in the people that will be playing and they’ve got a good track record,” Showalter said. “I don’t think anybody is trying to be as good as Manny. [He] had a historical year defensively, but we’ve been able to present ourselves well over there. I feel confident that we will continue to do that.”

Most believe Showalter will go with the strongest available defensive option in the postseason, which would be Flaherty despite the utility infielder committing three errors over his final four starts at third.

The 2012 Rule 5 pick said he is feeling more comfortable after getting extensive time at third base for the first time since the beginning of the year when he was filling in for the still-rehabbing Machado. Flaherty has made five errors in 27 starts and 255 1/3 total innings at third base this season.

“Part of my job here was to be able to be flexible and move around,” Flaherty said. “Getting over there the last couple weeks with Manny being gone, with Chris being gone [has helped]. You feel a little more comfortable the more you’re there.”

Rotation, roster remain secret

Showalter said Wednesday that he won’t announce the rest of his starting rotation until the conclusion of Game 1, but Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and Bud Norris will be the three starters behind Chris Tillman — in some order.

The 23-year-old Kevin Gausman was told to be ready for Game 1, a surefire sign that he will pitch in relief during the Division Series. However, it remains to be seen how many will be joining him in the bullpen as the Orioles are debating whether to go with a six-man group of relievers and a six-man bench or seven relief pitchers and five on the bench. A six-man bullpen would include Gausman, closer Zach Britton, right-handers Darren O’Day and Tommy Hunter, lefty Andrew Miller, and either righty-hander Brad Brach or left-hander Brian Matusz.

“The decision for us is going with 10 or 11 [pitchers], and we’ve kicked it around until we’re blue in the face like everybody does,” Showalter said. “If you knew exactly what was going to be needed for each game, it would be real easy to do.”

The deadline to finalize the Division Series roster is 10 a.m. Thursday.

“Cheerleader” Machado progressing well

Machado was back at Camden Yards to watch Games 1 and 2 of the Division Series before reporting to Sarasota to continue rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee.

The 22-year-old remains optimistic that he’ll be 100 percent for the start of spring training in February.

“I’m doing everything,” said Machado, who is embracing the role of cheering for teammates despite not being able to play. “Activating the muscles and trying to get my quads back. I’m basically full-go [in a] couple weeks, hopefully. I have full range of motion already, and hopefully in a couple weeks, I’ll start riding the bike and get that going.”

Mr. Oriole pays visit

Hall of Fame third baseman and Orioles legend Brooks Robinson was a special guest speaker before the 2014 Orioles completed their workout at Camden Yards on Wednesday.

“His message was that he’s excited to see how excited Baltimore is,” Tillman said. “To us, that’s special. He’s been there. He’s been there for the World Series, for the playoffs, and he said this is the most fans he’s ever seen walking around the streets wearing their Baltimore Orioles jerseys and are proud of it.”

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Five questions for Orioles in final 10 games of regular season

Posted on 18 September 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles may have already wrapped up their first American League East title in 17 years, but a number of questions are left to be answered as they play out the remainder of the regular season.

Here’s a look at what remains on manager Buck Showalter’s mind for his 92-60 Orioles as they enter the final 10 games before the postseason …

1. Is it more important to go for the No. 1 seed in the American League or to rest everyday players?

Even though a 43-31 road record suggests the Orioles shouldn’t be afraid of playing away games in October, it’s difficult to argue with wanting home-field advantage considering Showalter’s club is a remarkable 30-8 at Camden Yards since June 30 and hasn’t lost consecutive home games since June 28-29. Entering Friday, they trailed the Los Angeles Angels by 2 1/2 games for the best record in the major leagues, a deficit that is far from insurmountable with the Angels playing Seattle and Oakland three times each — all six games are on the road — in their final nine games.

But Showalter also knows players who are fresh — or are at least as fresh as possible in October — are even more important to the Orioles’ chances of playing deep into the postseason. The early indications are that we’ll see position players such as Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Nelson Cruz, and Steve Pearce sit on a rotational basis of one or two per game, but Showalter has also said resting pitchers will be the higher priority.

The club’s top relievers have already been rested periodically over the last couple weeks as we’ve seen the likes of Ryan Webb, Evan Meek, and Brian Matusz pitch in some high-leverage situations while Darren O’Day, Andrew Miller, and Zach Britton have gone unused in certain games when they’d usually be available. Showalter could also elect to give a spot start or two to Ubaldo Jimenez or Joe Saunders to align his rotation and give some extra rest to starters who have historically benefited from extra days like Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez.

Entering Friday, the Orioles owned an eight-game lead over current No. 3 seed Detroit, so there isn’t any real danger of losing their grasp on the second seed if the Angels hold a steady lead into next week.

2. “I Don’t Know’s on third?”

While many have focused on the lost power potential of Chris Davis when news broke of his 25-game suspension last week, his absence at third base — where he was doing a solid job filling in for the injured Manny Machado — created the bigger dilemma as we’ve seen the trio of Ryan Flaherty, Jimmy Paredes, and veteran Kelly Johnson share time at the hot corner since last week.

Flaherty is the best defensive option, but his .645 on-base plus slugging percentage creates another weak spot in a lineup that’s already carrying the inconsistent rookie second baseman Jonathan Schoop and one of the catching duo of Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley. Paredes and Johnson have provided some heroics with the bat in recent days, but neither provides a great deal of confidence defensively and they don’t have a track record — Johnson’s numbers in recent seasons are far inferior to the hitter he was four or five years ago — suggesting their offense will make a great impact in October, anyway.

It’s unlikely that Showalter will make a definitive choice for October, but his strong affinity for defense might make Flaherty the best bet of the three to receive extensive time — at least against right-handed starters — unless Paredes or Johnson continue to rake over the final 10 games going into the playoffs. Of course, there’s no guarantee that both Paredes and Johnson make the postseason roster.

3. Who will make up the four-man rotation for the playoffs?

Not counting Ubaldo Jimenez who appears all but certain to be left off the postseason roster, the Orioles really can’t go wrong with all five of their starters currently sporting an ERA of 3.62 or lower.

However, it would appear that Kevin Gausman is the starter left out considering he’s the least experienced of the group. Showalter’s decision to leave Chris Tillman out of the rotation in the 2012 postseason is a good indication that he’ll lean on experience, but the Orioles would be foolish not to put Gausman’s power arm in the bullpen to spell any starter showing signs of early trouble.

For the sake of ranking the remaining four from top to bottom, Tillman, Chen, Gonzalez, and Norris would be a fair order based on how they’ve pitched in recent weeks.

4. Which 25 players will make up the Division Series roster?

The Orioles elected to keep 12 pitchers for the Division Series two years ago, which gave them an eight-man bullpen and plenty of flexibility to match up.

There shouldn’t be too much drama in the bullpen as Britton, Miller, O’Day, Gausman, Matusz, Brad Brach, and Tommy Hunter would fill the first seven spots with the final slot potentially going to long man T.J. McFarland or right-hander Ryan Webb. With three of the four rotation members right-handed, McFarland could be Showalter’s preference in the event of an early exit by a starter as he’d be a long reliever throwing from the opposite side to face a lineup designed for the right-handed starter.

Working under the assumption that Jones, Markakis, Cruz, Hardy, Pearce, Schoop, Joseph, Hundley, Flaherty, Delmon Young, and Alejandro De Aza are locks, Paredes, Johnson, and outfielders David Lough and Quintin Berry would be the realistic candidates fighting for two spots. It will be interesting to see if Showalter values having either Lough or Berry as a pinch-running option and late-inning defensive replacement, which would push either Paredes or Johnson off the roster with the other  guaranteed to make it as an option at third base.

The suspended Davis isn’t eligible to return until after the first eight games of the postseason, so his status isn’t a factor for the Division Series.

5. Will the Orioles be able to maintain their edge?

With so much discussion about Showalter needing to rest his everyday players, there’s a fine balance between providing a breather and accidentally turning off a competitive switch that isn’t guaranteed to come back on in October.

This could be a real concern for many clubs locking up a playoff spot in mid-September, but the mental toughness shown from the likes of Jones and Markakis all the way down to Paredes and De Aza makes you think the Orioles are incapable of losing their focus. Of course, the possibility of still being able to catch the Angels for the top seed provides extra incentive for players to remain engaged over the final 10 games.

Considering they’ve overcome season-ending losses to two All-Star players and haven’t even blinked since Davis’ suspension began last week, it would be difficult to fathom the Orioles finally having a mental letdown at this late stage. The Orioles may ultimately fall short in the playoffs, but it won’t be due to a lack of focus or going through the motions.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Orioles’ ability to overcome adversity begins with starters

Posted on 14 September 2014 by Luke Jones

With Friday’s surprising news of Chris Davis being suspended 25 games for amphetamine use, the same question that’s been tossed the Orioles’ way all season was uttered once again.

How can they overcome this?

Despite an 88-60 record entering Sunday that had them days away from the American League East championship, the Orioles have faced anything but a problem-free campaign in 2014.

All-Star players Matt Wieters and Manny Machado have suffered season-ending injuries. Top free-agent acquisition Ubaldo Jimenez has not only failed to meet expectations, but has been banished to the last spot in the bullpen and is very likely to be left off the postseason roster. And even before Davis’ suspension that now bans him until at least the AL Championship Series — if the Orioles advance that far — the slugger was hitting only .196 a year after hitting a franchise-record and league-leading 53 home runs.

“The game usually gives you back kind of what you put into it,” said manager Buck Showalter after the Orioles’ doubleheader sweep of the New York Yankees on Friday. “Everybody’s putting something into it.”

The narratives of resiliency and a different hero every night have frequently rung true, but they don’t paint the entire picture of how the Orioles have managed to all but run away with their first division title since 1997. We knew the Orioles would hit home runs and play exceptional defense entering the season, and those skills have certainly been there all year.

But the biggest question would be the pitching, particularly in the rotation. Even with the struggles of their $50 million addition in Jimenez, the starting pitching has not only silenced the doubts, but has been a strength since the first two months of the season. Through the end of May, the starting rotation had posted an underwhelming 4.49 ERA as the Orioles were 27-27. Since June 1, starters have pitched to an impeccable 3.20 mark, which would be tops in the AL if extrapolated over the entire season. The Orioles have gone 61-33 over that period of time, a .649 winning percentage.

Even with the unevenness of April and May included, Baltimore ranks sixth in the AL in starter ERA, which nearly any fan would have gladly taken at the start of the season. The current team ERA of 3.50 would be the Orioles’ lowest in a full season since 1979 when the AL champions posted a 3.26 ERA.

When being compared to the other top clubs around baseball, the Orioles are often sold short for lacking a true ace, but that hasn’t stopped the starting rotation from becoming the strong heartbeat of a club nearly 30 games above .500 in mid-September. All five members of the current rotation sport an ERA of 3.74 or better, making Showalter’s job a difficult one when deciding which four will make the postseason rotation.

Not only has the quintet of Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, and Kevin Gausman pitched effectively, but the group has been durable with only Gonzalez and Norris spending brief time on the disabled list this season. After using a total of 12 or more starters in each of the previous three seasons under Showalter, the Orioles have sent just seven starters to the hill in 2014 with long reliever T.J. McFarland only receiving one spot start.

Four Oriole starters — Tillman, Chen, Norris, and Gonzalez — have made 24 or more starts. For perspective, only three made 24 or more starts in 2013 and just one did it in 2012 when the Orioles earned their first postseason trip in 15 years.

Upon learning of Davis’ suspension on Friday, the Orioles responded by promptly sweeping a twin bill over the Yankees in which they allowed one run in 20 total innings. The nightcap was particularly indicative of what the Orioles have become as they fielded what looked like a spring training lineup that included only four players from the Opening Day order and three who weren’t even on the 40-man roster at the start of the year. It was no problem for Bud Norris, who pitched seven shutout innings against the fading Yankees in a 5-0 victory.

“Good pitching solves a lot of problems, issues, whatever you might want to call it,” said Showalter as he reflected on the work his club did following the Davis announcement on Friday. “That’s usually where it starts.”

And it’s why the Orioles shouldn’t be counted out, even after this latest blow to the lineup.

 

 

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Veteran pitchers Saunders, Meek become first September call-ups for Orioles

Posted on 01 September 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — With the calendar turning to September, the Orioles wasted no time making their first call-ups for the expanded roster by summoning relief pitchers Joe Saunders and Evan Meek on Monday.

Baltimore selected Saunders’s contract while recalling Meek and right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman, who started Monday’s series finale against the Minnesota Twins. Infielder Kelly Johnson also reported to the Orioles and was officially added to the roster after being acquired from the Boston Red Sox late Saturday night.

Beginning the season in the Texas Rangers’ rotation, Saunders was released twice in the month of July and went 0-5 with a 6.13 ERA in eight starts for Texas. Upon being released by the Ranger on July 4, Saunders signed a minor-league deal with the Kansas City Royals and was let go later in the month after posting a 6.75 ERA in four starts for Triple-A Omaha.

The 33-year-old Saunders posted a 1.50 ERA in 10 relief appearances for Triple-A Norfolk, holding left-handed hitters to a .211 average. Of course, Saunders was previously acquired by the Orioles late in the 2012 campaign and went 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in seven starts spanning 44 2/3 innings. He was the winning pitcher in the inaugural American League Wild Card Game against Texas that sent the Orioles to their first AL Division Series appearance since 1997.

Manager Buck Showalter envisions Saunders serving a role similar in nature to the one held by T.J. McFarland for most of the season. After being temporarily optioned to the minors on Sunday, McFarland is expected to be recalled on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old Meek went 2-0 with 16 saves and a 1.94 ERA (in 39 games for the Tides this season, striking out 37 and walking only four. He appeared in 15 games for the Orioles earlier this season, posting a 7.47 ERA.

The Orioles are also expected to recall right-handed relief pitcher Ryan Webb and backup catcher Steve Clevenger on Tuesday. Webb has recently been dealing with shoulder fatigue and was given a few days to rest. He is expected to test the shoulder for the Tides on Monday before being recalled for the three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds.

Showalter said first baseman and outfielder Steve Pearce is feeling much better from the abdominal strain that sidelined him Friday night. The manager hopes he can give it “a test run” at some point during the Cincinnati series.

The organization also announced which minor-leaguer players would be attending the instructional camp in Sarasota that begins on Sept. 6. Outfielders Dariel Alvarez and Henry Urrutia, infielders Christian Walker and Buck Britton, catchers Michael Ohlman and Brian Ward, and pitchers Oliver Drake, Eddie Gamboa, Preston Guilmet, Brock Huntzinger, Chris Jones, Tyler Wilson, and Mike Wright will participate in workouts and remain ready in case there’s a need at the major-league level during the month of September.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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

Posted on 28 August 2014 by Luke Jones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Orioles can prove to be beasts of East by surviving West Coast

Posted on 18 July 2014 by Luke Jones

Sitting in first place at the All-Star break for the first time since 1997 didn’t exactly earn the Orioles any favors as they started the second half of the season in Oakland on Friday night.

A 10-game West Coast trip against the two teams with the best records in the majors and the second wild card leader in the American League probably gave manager Buck Showalter a restless night or two over this week’s respite. Knowing the Orioles play their next 23 games against clubs with winning records — not to mention the six following that against teams with .500 marks at the break — likely made him lose even more sleep.

Of course, Showalter and the Orioles have every right to feel good about themselves after winning 25 of their last 40 to move to 10 games above .500 and turn a 4 1/2-game deficit into a four-game lead over that stretch. They’ve built themselves a small cushion in a division in which no one is without sizable warts and imperfections with Toronto and New York seemingly moving in the wrong direction and Boston and Tampa Bay being mostly bad all season.

No, the trip to the West Coast will neither break nor make the Orioles’ chances of winning their first American League East title since 1997, but those 10 games allow them an opportunity to flex their muscles as a man amongst boys in an underwhelming division. Holding their own in Oakland, Anaheim, and Seattle — even going 5-5 — would not only keep the Orioles in first place but allow them to return home in late July in prime position to continue their quest to a second postseason appearance in the last three years.

A strong showing against the imposing AL West over the next couple weeks could be the difference between a relatively comfortable journey to October and needing to scratch and claw over the final two months of the regular season. In the same way that the Orioles took advantage of the recent struggles of the Blue Jays, the rest of the AL East will be rooting for Baltimore to wilt before finally returning to Camden Yards on July 29.

A starting rotation that’s pitched to a 3.18 ERA over its last 33 games will now face the two highest-scoring offenses in baseball over the next six contests. It was a 1-6 run against the Athletics and the Angels earlier this month that saw the Blue Jays’ one-game lead in the division turn into a 2 1/2-game deficit by the time they left the West Coast.

Even with the daunting stretch staring them in the face, the Orioles couldn’t ask for better timing as they’ll feel more rested now than they will at any point over the rest of the season. Aside from the current ankle injury to starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez — which many critics would deem a blessing anyway — the Orioles are as healthy as they’ve been at any point during the first half of the season.

Showalter has set up his rotation to include the 23-year-old Kevin Gausman — who could finally be with the Orioles for good — and will be looking for his starting pitchers to pick up where they left off to close the first half. And he’ll hope the inconsistent offense — currently ranked seventh in the AL in runs scored — will finally hit its stride and struggling first baseman Chris Davis starts looking more like the force he was a year ago and less like the .199 hitter who was lost at the plate for the first 3 1/2 months of the season.

By no means was it a perfect first half for the first-place Orioles as they lost catcher Matt Wieters for the season and saw their $50 million investment in Jimenez lead the majors in walks, but Baltimore was the least flawed of anyone in the division and still appears that way beginning the most difficult road trip of the season.

The Orioles can use these next 10 games to flex their muscles as the clear favorite in the division and solidify their first-place standing or could see themselves fall back with the rest of the imperfect pack in the AL East.

They’ve grown accustomed to being the hunter over the last three seasons; it will be interesting to see how they start the second half as the hunted after four days off to think about it.

By no means is it do or die, but the West Coast trip will be an opportunity for the Orioles to stake their claim as the overwhelming favorite in the division while sampling what they could see again in October.

 

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , ,

Gausman’s rotation spot must be solidified after All-Star break

Posted on 07 July 2014 by Luke Jones

If the Orioles really wanted to have a sense of humor, they’d offer a Kevin Gausman yo-yo giveaway night at Camden Yards in the second half of the season.

Monday brought the expected news of the 23-year-old right-hander being optioned yet again to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for former York Revolution relief pitcher Julio DePaula, who provided manager Buck Showalter with an extra arm in the bullpen after Sunday’s 12-inning win in Boston. The 31-year-old DePaula figures to only be with the Orioles for one game with Bud Norris set to be activated from the disabled list for Tuesday’s start against the Washington Nationals.

Yes, Gausman has options and the Orioles needed an extra arm in the bullpen, making him a logical choice to be sent to the minors to create an open spot on the 25-man roster. With next week’s All-Star break looming, the argument could be made that the 2012 first-round pick could only miss one start before returning in the second half of the season.

But is the constant yo-yoing of the young pitcher between Baltimore and the minors what’s best for him and the Orioles? Shuffling the deck with the likes of T.J. McFarland, Brad Brach, and Evan Meek is one thing — executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has manipulated his roster as much as anyone over the last three years — but continuing to mess with the rhythm of your top pitching prospect wouldn’t appear to be the best way to maximize your investment.

Showalter often quips that you can’t mess up the good ones no matter how much you try, but starting pitchers are also creatures of habit. Gausman has only gotten used to a routine of unpredictability and travel over the last month as he’s been optioned twice, was called up to serve as the 26th man for a doubleheader on June 27, and has pitched for the Orioles, Triple-A Norfolk, and short-season Single-A Aberdeen over that stretch.

The Orioles say there is another reason why they’ve handled the young pitcher in the manner they have this season, but even that excuse will no longer be valid after the All-Star break.

“I think every time he goes out [to pitch], it’s good for him,” Showalter said after Sunday’s 7-6 win over the Red Sox. “We’re managing his innings so — at some point — he’s good enough and we’re good enough to pitch the rest of the season. There’s a method to what we’re doing here. We’re trying to make sure a guy like him is available the whole year.”

In 2013, Gausman pitched 129 2/3 innings split between the Orioles and the minor leagues, putting him in line to throw somewhere in the neighborhood of at least 150 to 160 innings this season. He’s pitched 78 2/3 innings so far in 2014, leaving him on track to easily be able to handle a full workload as a starter in the second half.

But the excuses appear to be running out as even Hall of Fame pitcher and MASN analyst Jim Palmer recently took the organization to task over how Gausman has been handled despite pitching to a 2.45 ERA in his five starts since June 7. Showalter made a point during the club’s last homestand that he didn’t want to send Gausman to the hill on abbreviated rest, but the right-hander has twice been recalled to make starts on three days’ rest this season, albeit following what were abbreviated outings each time.

The Orioles gave Gausman infrequent work out of the bullpen for a large stretch of his rookie season instead of allowing him to work every fifth day on his secondary pitches at Norfolk.

Showalter may quip that you can’t prevent the best prospects from reaching their full potential, but the Orioles have put on a clinic in trying to do just that with Gausman over the last calendar year.

The young pitcher’s upside — and performance over the last month — has made his inclusion in the rotation a no-brainer despite the lingering headache of what to do to make room for him. Yes, the Orioles have the ability to move him on and off the roster as needed, but that doesn’t mean they should continue doing it if they want to see him thrive in the majors — and help them advance to the playoffs for the second time in three years.

The Orioles can’t keep Gausman out of the rotation because of a $50 million investment in Ubaldo Jimenez or loyalty to Miguel Gonzalez or Wei-Yin Chen. They need to make it work in allowing their best arm to pitch in the major leagues, regardless of what that means for the rest of the rotation.

Gausman has taken the high road whenever asked about being bounced back and forth between the big club and the minor leagues, but he’s also a human being with emotions who has to be wondering what more he needs to do to stay in the majors. The right-hander could have the impact of a trade-deadline acquisition if the Orioles simply give him a chance to flourish on a regular schedule.

“That’s really not up to me,” Gausman told reporters after Sunday’s outing. “I just try to pitch well when I can and when I get the opportunity to, but I have options and they’re going to use them if they feel like they need it. If we need a bullpen guy, that’s what it’s going to be.”

Next week’s All-Star break provides a final excuse for the Orioles to send Gausman back to Norfolk for one last start or two, but it will be time to solidify his place in the rotation after that — assuming he continues to perform at a level deserving of one.

And it will no longer be good enough to simply say they needed his roster spot if the Orioles truly want Gausman to be a critical part of a second-half run to the postseason.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Orioles designate Ramirez to make room for Gausman

Posted on 06 July 2014 by WNST Staff

Orioles recall RHP Kevin Gausman from Class-A Aberdeen

RHP Ramon Ramirez designated for assignment

 

The Orioles today announced that they have recalled RHP KEVIN GAUSMAN from Class-A Aberdeen and designated RHP RAMON RAMIREZ for assignment. Gausman is expected to start today’s game at Boston.

Gausman, 23, is 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA (28.0IP, 12ER) in five starts for the Orioles this season.

Ramirez, 32, made one scoreless appearance for the Orioles (1.0IP, BB, 2K) after having his contract selected on June 30.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Orioles activate Reimold from DL, designate him for assignment

Posted on 01 July 2014 by WNST Staff

The Baltimore Orioles announced Tuesday they had activated OF Nolan Reimold (back) from the 60 day DL and designated him for assignment.

The team will now have 10 days to trade or release the 30 year old. If he is not claimed off of waivers the team could then give him a minor league assignment. Should Reimold refuse that assignment, he would forfeit the rest of his 2014 salary. If a team does claim Reimold or he accepts the assignment, the Birds would still owe him roughly $500,000 of his $1.025 million salary.

Reimold had cervical spine fusion surgery in the spring, the most recent in a line of health-related issues for the Bowling Green alum. After being sidelined by an oblique strain and achilles tendon fraying early in his career, Reimold’s most significant issues began in 2012. The Pennsylvania native had surgery for a herniated disc in June 2012 that shortened his season, he was forced to have corrective surgery just a year later to fix the previous procedure.

Since arriving in the big leagues in 2009, Reimold has played in just 286 games (all with the Orioles). He has hit .252/.327/.439 with 41 home runs and 126 RBI in the span.

NOTES: The Boston Red Sox announced INF Michael Almanzar had been returned to their organization by the Orioles. Almanzar was Baltimore’s choice in the major league portion of the 2013 Rule 5 Draft and was designated for assignment Monday after being activated from the 60 day DL (knee)…Kevin Gausman is eligible to return to the bigs after his 10 day waiting period expired following his June demotion. Orioles manager Buck Showalter announced Gausman will start Wednesday for the Aberdeen Ironbirds and could be in line to start for the O’s Sunday against the Red Sox

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Norris officially sent to disabled list with right groin strain

Posted on 26 June 2014 by Luke Jones

(Updated: Friday at 12:05 p.m.)

BALTIMORE — After leaving his start with right groin discomfort last Saturday in New York, Orioles pitcher Bud Norris was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to Friday’s doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The right-hander underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Thursday that revealed a strain that will force him to miss at least one start. Norris was still experiencing discomfort while completing a bullpen session on Wednesday that prompted the Orioles to recommend further testing. Norris is eligible to be activated from the DL on July 7.

“When [the doctors] said it was going to be four or five days before he can get on the hill again, waiting around isn’t very beneficial,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We feel confident that we can resolve it in the DL period.”

Showalter will not need another starter until Tuesday as Kevin Gausman was summoned to pitch the first game of Friday’s doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays with Chris Tillman starting the nightcap in Norris’ place. Because of Thursday’s off-day, the Orioles will send lefty Wei-Yin Chen to the hill on Saturday and right-hander Miguel Gonzalez on Sunday to conclude the four-game series. Ubaldo Jimenez will then pitch Monday’s series opener against the Texas Rangers on four days’ rest.

Gausman served as the club’s 26th man roster exemption for the day-night doubleheader and will be returned to Triple-A Norfolk after the game to fulfill his 10-day requirement in the minors. He is expected to be recalled in time to make his next start on Wednesday, but he is not an option to pitch on short rest for Tuesday’s game, according to Showalter.

The Orioles could look at current long reliever T.J. McFarland to make a spot start on Tuesday before settling into a five-man rotation with Gausman occupying Norris’ original slot.

“Right now, we’re probably looking for a break from the weather,” quipped Showalter, who added that newly-signed Norfolk lefty Randy Wolf isn’t ready to be an option for Tuesday. “We’ll be alright. We’ve got some good options.”

Right-handed relief pitcher Evan Meek was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to take Norris’ place and serve as an extra arm in the bullpen for the twin bill. Meek is 2-0 with three saves and a 2.79 ERA in 17 games for the Tides and has gone 0-2 with a 6.39 ERA in 13 appearances for the Orioles this season

With third baseman Manny Machado’s looming suspension, the Orioles must play a man down in his absence and cannot use his spot on the roster, which led to them recalling Meek to use Norris’ roster slot for the time being with that spot expected to eventually address Machado’s absence. When a decision is made on Machado, the club will add an extra infielder — presumably in place of Meek or another reliever — and Jemile Weeks will likely be recalled as he traveled to Baltimore on Thursday night.

Though Norris isn’t expected to be sidelined for long, the news is a tough break for the 29-year-old as he’s been the club’s most consistent starting pitcher this season. In 14 starts, Norris owns a 7-5 record with a 3.62 ERA in 87 innings and has struck out 60 while walking 28 batters.

Comments (0)