Tag Archive | "kevin gausman"

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Inspired by Kevin Gausman, want to see the worst athletic competition of all time?

Posted on 17 August 2013 by Glenn Clark

Baltimore Orioles P Kevin Gausman appeared on “The Handoff” with Thyrl Nelson and I recently on AM1570 WNST.net. Thyrl has become a bit obsessed with bullpen games since Blue Jays P (and former Maryland standout) Brett Cecil told us about games he learned from Mariano Rivera at the All-Star Game.

The game he taught us involved gum and a cup. It was exactly as poor as I thought it would be. Either the game stinks or we stink. Perhaps both.

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Showalter leaving door open for ninth-inning options besides Johnson

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Showalter leaving door open for ninth-inning options besides Johnson

Posted on 16 August 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 returning home following a deflating three-game sweep at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the question on everyone’s mind was who would take the ball in the ninth inning for manager Buck Showalter.

Having blown his last three save opportunities to run his total to a league-worst nine for the season, closer Jim Johnson told reporters in the Orioles clubhouse that he remains confident and that Showalter continues to express confidence in him. And while it’s true that the Baltimore manager maintained Friday that Johnson was still the best option on the team, he also provided himself wiggle room to make a change if he feels it to be necessary.

“I think we have a lot of options and he’s one of them,” Showalter said. “We’re lucky to have all those options. Different guys have failure. I know the finality of it and I know the questions should and need to be asked and it’s frustrating for Jimmy and me. I’m frustrated for him. There’s some things we haven’t done in other innings, too, but I understand the finality of that inning.”

Johnson still leads the majors with 39 saves, but the embattled right-hander is just 9-for-16 in one-run saves as many have pointed to the Orioles’ horrendous 56-9 mark when leading after eight innings and an underwhelming 14-21 record in one-run games after going a remarkable 29-9 in contests decided by one run last year. Those ugly realities have led most to the conclusion that the Orioles need to make a change at the closer spot — at least temporarily.

Showalter has repeatedly expressed his confidence in Johnson this year — including when the 30-year-old reliever blew four of five save chances in late May — but that loyalty is now appearing to contradict the ultimate goal of winning enough games to qualify for postseason play. If Showalter is planning a change, it comes as no surprise that he isn’t broadcasting that for both competitive reasons and respect for the 2012 All-Star closer.

Some have suggested even just giving Johnson a mental and physical respite for a number of days to see if that straightens him out for the stretch run, but the club has already tried to do that at a couple points this season, according to Showalter. If the next save opportunity comes Friday or later this weekend or even next week, the Orioles aren’t tipping their hand whether it will once again be Johnson or somebody else trotting to the hill in the ninth inning.

“If we decide to do that, there’s not going to be some big announcement,” Showalter said. “It will be something I’ve talked to people about and you’ll probably know about it when the gate opens. There are a lot of things that have to be done for us to get 27 outs before they score more runs than we do.”

Even Showalter’s biggest supporters have questioned the sanity of continuing to use Johnson in the ninth inning, a reality not lost on the manager as the Orioles start an important nine-game homestand to take them to the final days of August.

He’s very aware that the Orioles have lost some games that they shouldn’t have won, but Showalter’s intense loyalty to his players that is typically viewed as his greatest strength looks much more like a weakness at this point.

“I’m a fan, too. I get frustrated. We’re all fans of the Orioles,” Showalter said. “I’m a fan of the Orioles and I want us to win. If there are adjustments that need to be made along the way, I understand the sense of urgency with 42 games [left]. But I also know we’re still in a position to do what we set out to do this season and we won’t give in.”

No timetable for Adair’s return to club

As the organization did in announced Rick Adair’s personal leave of absence on Friday morning, Showalter remained respectful of his privacy and would not divulge any details about the circumstances with which the pitching coach is dealing.

Bullpen coach Bill Castro will assume the duties of pitching coach while former Orioles left-hander and minor-league instructor Scott McGregor will serve as the interim bullpen coach. Castro has major league experience as a pitching coach after previously serving in that capacity with the Milwaukee Brewers as recently as 2009.

Many reacted to the news by immediately speculating that this was a polite way to dismiss Adair, but the Orioles have been emphatic that the reason for the leave of absence isn’t related to his job performance. We could eventually learn there is more to this story, but it’s also important to remember coaches and players are also human beings with everyday trials just like anyone else.

“We all have some things in our lives we need to take care of that are more important than this, believe it or not,” Showalter said. “We’re just fortunate to be in an organization that is willing to do those things, and we’re fortunate to have people like Billy and Scott that can make it seamless. It has nothing to do with the job Rick is doing. Rick’s been doing a good job. Just some challenges we all have that we need to take some time and take care of.”

Showalter held a team meeting Friday afternoon to inform them of the shuffling along the coaching ranks and to address any rumors that might hear about Adair’s absence. Castro met with Orioles pitchers individually prior to the series opener against Colorado.

Gausman dealing with arm soreness

After top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy underwent Tommy John surgery earlier in the season, the last thing Orioles fans wanted to hear Friday was that 2012 first-round pick Kevin Gausman was skipped in the Triple-A Norfolk rotation with some soreness in his right arm.

Showalter made it clear that this isn’t considered to be anything serious, but the club also presented a similar prognosis when Bundy first complained of forearm discomfort. Of course, pitchers frequently deal with sore or tired arms and it doesn’t mean Gausman is facing any type of long-term issue at this time, but it will be something the Orioles will monitor for the time being.

“He feels good. He’s not happy about not pitching, but just had a little soreness,” Showalter said. “[It will] probably be the last time he ever tells us about it. That’s usually how it goes. They don’t seem alarmed about it. There was some give and take about whether they were even going to do it.”

The good news is that Showalter acknowledged the extra rest would benefit Gausman in terms of his workload and referred to the likely scenario of Gausman helping out the major league club in September and beyond.

Gausman last pitched on Aug. 8 when he allowed two earned runs in five innings of work for the Tides.

Changing it up

For the second time over the last week, Showalter flipped first baseman Chris Davis and right fielder Nick Markakis in the batting order as Davis was hitting third and Markakis fifth in Friday’s lineup against the Colorado Rockies.

Showalter admitted there were a variety of reasons for making the change, ranging from a desire to get Davis more at-bats to simply wanting to shake things up in hopes of jump-starting the offense. With both Davis and Markakis swinging from the left side, the change keeps the lineup in order in terms of making it difficult for a bullpen to match up in the late innings as Showalter frequently alternates right-handers and left-handers.

“Nick doesn’t care if he hits ninth, first, second, third, twelfth. He would probably have a problem with hitting twelfth,” Showalter quipped. “It’s just something we feel like is a good approach for today. We’ll see where it takes us.”

While Davis is in the midst of an MVP-caliber year, Markakis’ .282 batting average, .335 on-base percentage, and .372 slugging percentage are all career lows, making an easy argument against the right fielder remaining in the No. 3 slot in the lineup. It will also be interesting to see what it means for Davis with Adam Jones hitting directly behind him in the order compared to either Matt Wieters or J.J. Hardy as we’ve seen for most of the season.

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Hammel not answering call in Orioles rotation

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Hammel not answering call in Orioles rotation

Posted on 13 July 2013 by Luke Jones

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

BALTIMORE — Orioles manager Buck Showalter expressed confidence that Jason Hammel’s best games still lie ahead in the second half after Saturday’s 7-3 loss to Toronto.

And it’s a good thing too, because the struggling starting pitcher didn’t sound like he had much in himself after allowing six earned runs in six-plus innings to the Blue Jays. After plunking No. 9 hitter Emilio Bonifacio and walking Jose Reyes to begin the seventh inning, Hammel was lifted by Showalter to watch those runners eventually score, raising his earned run average to 5.24 on the season.

“I hate seeing him come out every time in the seventh inning when we’ve had a lead and I’ve given it back,” said Hammel, referring to the 3-2 lead he relinquished an inning earlier by giving up four straight singles with two outs. “I’ve got to hand the ball over to him and today was no different. I was very frustrated, actually kind of spiked it into his hand. I was a little [ticked] off. It’s frustrating.”

Winless since May 27 and unable to build on three straight quality starts from Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and Chris Tillman heading into Saturday, Hammel appears to be the weakest link in the rotation despite receiving the Opening Day start less than four months ago. He fell to 7-6 on the season and now has a 6.65 ERA in eight home starts (46 innings) this season. Only two of those have been quality starts as his frustration boiled over following Saturday’s loss.

His 2012 first half in which he was an American League finalist for the All-Star Game’s final fan vote must feel like a distant memory for the 30-year-old right-hander, who’s status in the starting rotation has to be in question for the second half. The heavy-hitting Blue Jays were all over him early, evident by Edwin Encarnacion’s two-run homer in the first inning. To Hammel’s credit, he rebounded to throw four straight scoreless frames before once again running into trouble at the end of the day.

“Unacceptable. Far too many baserunners, getting behind hitters,” Hammel said. “[That's a] fastball-hitting club that I’m feeding fastballs. It’s easy to hit when you know what is coming. I’m not throwing sliders for strikes, not throwing curveballs where I want them. Changeup is nonexistent. I’m beating myself right now.”

The biggest downfall for Hammel in 2013 has been his inability to duplicate the success he enjoyed with his two-seam fastball a year ago when he was able to frequently induce grounders and mix in his breaking stuff to overpower hitters. In 20 starts in 2012 — Hammel missed most of the second half after undergoing right knee surgery in July — he went 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA and posted career bests with 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings and a 1.24 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).

Those numbers prompted Showalter to give Hammel the ball in Game 1 of the American League Division Series despite the fact that he made only three regular-season starts after the All-Star break. Showalter hoped Hammel would be their de facto ace in 2013 by awarding him the start on Opening Day, but he hasn’t looked the part sans a handful of outings this season.

Without the two-seamer being a consistent factor this year, Hammel’s pitches have been consistently up in the zone as he’s allowed 19 home runs in his 19 starts this season, just two shy of his career-worst total of 21 in 2011.

“He’s pitched some good games. You can go back through that,” Showalter said. “There are some things that didn’t work out. But I think it bodes well for the rest of the season because he’s capable of better and I think his best games are ahead of him.”

As much as the Orioles hoped last season was a renaissance for Hammel after underwhelming runs with Tampa Bay and Colorado, his numbers this season are more reflective of his pre-2012 statistics when he occasionally bounced back and forth between the starting rotation and bullpen with his former clubs. His current ERA and home run totals are higher than his career numbers (4.80 ERA and 1.5 homers per nine innings entering Saturday), but his current WHIP (1.44) and strikeouts per nine innings (6.3) are nearly identical to his career numbers (1.43 and 6.6).

Much to the organization’s chagrin after failing to acquire a veteran starting pitcher in the offseason, it appears Hammel’s 2012 season was the outlier and his performance this season is simply returning to the norm. That revelation makes it no easier for any of the involved parties, however, in the midst of a pennant race.

“This first half, honestly, is unacceptable for me,” said Hammel, who plans to get away from baseball over the All-Star break to clear his mind and believes he’s been trying too hard to make adjustments between starts. “I’m better than this and it’s on my shoulders. It’s on nobody else. It’s fixable. It’s just I’ve got to get out of my own way.”

Hammel doesn’t appear to be in immediate danger of losing his spot in the rotation, but beyond the top three of Gonzalez, Chen, and Tillman, the Orioles must find more consistency from the back end of the rotation, which includes the newly-acquired Scott Feldman. Otherwise, Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette will have no choice but to revisit the possibility of rookie Kevin Gausman or another option such as Steve Johnson receiving another shot while continuing to explore the possibility of another trade.

The timing of Hammel’s struggles couldn’t be worse for him personally as he is scheduled to become a free agent after the season. While some encouraged the Orioles to sign Hammel to an extension last winter, his future with the organization beyond the next few months now appears in doubt due to his performance this season.

For now, the Orioles continue to express confidence in Hammel, who threw first-pitch strikes to just 13 of the 28 hitters he faced in Saturday’s loss. But that confidence can only go so far in the second half in a very tight AL East race.

“I think it’s just you’ve got to get ahead of guys,” said first baseman Chris Davis, who clubbed his major league-leading 36th home run of the year Saturday. “I think Ham is obviously a guy who has really good stuff if he can go out there and get ahead of guys. If you put the [count in his favor], I think he’s successful.”

The Orioles keep waiting — perhaps only hoping at this point? — for last year’s Hammel to suddenly appear. But after 19 starts of results more closely mirroring the rest of his career, you wonder how much longer they can wait before looking elsewhere.

Even Hammel acknowledged as much on Saturday.

“I know these guys are pulling for me,” Hammel said. “I do believe the best days are ahead, but it’s got to happen fast if we want to make this a championship season. I’m a big part of it and I have to get it right.”

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Pondering second-half roles for Britton, Gausman, S. Johnson

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Pondering second-half roles for Britton, Gausman, S. Johnson

Posted on 10 July 2013 by Luke Jones

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BALTIMORE — After optioning pitchers Zach Britton and Kevin Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk after Tuesday’s game, the Orioles are now faced with the interesting question of how each will fit into their plans in the second half of the season.

The return of left-hander Wei-Yin Chen after nearly two months takes away a spot in the starting rotation and hopefully provides more stability than the Orioles have enjoyed since the start of the season. The starting five of Chen, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Jason Hammel, and Scott Feldman doesn’t appear to have any candidates dangerously close to being removed from the rotation, so the question of what to potentially do with Britton and Gausman becomes more interesting.

Josh Stinson’s promotion to the Baltimore bullpen wouldn’t figure to be a long-term solution, but the right-hander provides length that Britton nor Gausman would have been able to offer for at least a couple days. As a result, the two will complete a workday in Norfolk before split pitching duties in Sunday’s game before the International League has its own All-Star break next week.

Though manager Buck Showalter said Tuesday that Gausman working out of the bullpen was a positive in terms of further acclimating himself to playing in the big leagues, the infrequent work he received was a major drawback as opposed to him pitching every fifth day in either Baltimore or Norfolk. Should a need arise due to injury or ineffectiveness, you’d expect Gausman to be near the top of the list of candidates to crack the rotation in the second half.

The thought of Gausman serving in a relief role late in the season is an intriguing one with his tremendous velocity, but it makes more sense for him to pitch regularly and to continue to develop his secondary pitches at Triple A instead of serving in long relief for the Orioles with just under half of the season remaining.

What to do with Britton is a much more interesting case as I broke down his shortcomings following last night’s game. It appears that his best chance for making a contribution to the 2013 Orioles would be as a reliever, but finding a spot for him appears tricky at the moment.

The club already has T.J. McFarland as a long reliever and you wouldn’t expect a second left-hander in that role to be a great fit. Brian Matusz and Troy Patton are also in the bullpen, so carrying a third middle reliever or specialist from the left side doesn’t sound ideal either. For what it’s worth in a small sample size this season, lefties are hitting .325 in 45 plate appearances against Britton while right-handed hitters own a .292 average in 109 plate appearances.

As for the spot currently being held by Stinson in the bullpen, right-hander Steve Johnson would appear to be a good option after the break as he was essentially serving in that role while former Oriole Pedro Strop was on the disabled list earlier this season. Johnson threw off the mound for the first time in Sarasota on Monday and will throw live batting practice on Thursday.

Johnson would be a great fit as a right-hander who can provide length — unlike Strop, which made it virtually impossible to continue to hide his struggles in the bullpen prior to last week’s trade — as well as the ability to contribute in the later innings when necessary. While the club is remaining cautious with his recovery from a strained left oblique, it wouldn’t be farfetched to see Johnson in the bullpen shortly after the second half begins.

In other injury-related news, infield prospect Jonathan Schoop will begin a minor-league rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Orioles. It had previously been thought that Schoop would complete his stint with Aberdeen before returning to Triple-A Norfolk, but the club will instead keep him in Florida.

Outfielder Steve Pearce underwent an MRA on his left wrist in Sarasota to check for any structural damage as progress has been slow for his recovery. On the DL since June 21, Pearce’s right wrist is feeling better, but he’s been unable to increase his activity level because of continuing discomfort in the other wrist.

Showalter acknowledged lefty Tsuyoshi Wada was someone the club briefly considered before recalling Stinson for Gausman’s vacated spot, but the Orioles would like to see Wada continue to make progress with the Tides. Asked about his potential second-half role with the club, the Orioles manager said Wada wouldn’t appear to be a candidate for a relief role, making his timetable for a potential major league debut cloudier.

Wada has allowed two or fewer runs in each of his last four starts, but the organization feels it’s best for him to continue to pitch every five days instead of in the long-relief role that Stinson will serve over the remainder of the homestand. It also made sense for the right-hander Stinson to be available to back up the lefty Chen on Wednesday night and the Orioles already have McFarland in that role from the left side.

Infielder Wilson Betemit continues to make slow progress and participate in baseball-related activities “as tolerated” while recovering from the torn PCL in his right knee suffered during spring training. Showalter remains optimistic that Betemit will be able to contribute at some point in the second half, but there is no firm timetable for the veteran to even participate in sim games let alone project a return date to Baltimore.

Reserve outfielder Chris Dickson was scheduled to serve as the designated hitter in Wednesday’s game but was a late scratch as Nolan Reimold replaced him in the lineup. No immediate reason was given prior to the third game of a four-game set with the Texas Rangers.

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Britton’s struggles, rotation crunch lead to latest demotion

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Britton’s struggles, rotation crunch lead to latest demotion

Posted on 10 July 2013 by Luke Jones

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

BALTIMORE — Zach Britton knew his time with the Orioles was likely up for the time being following his Tuesday start, but his performance against the Texas Rangers didn’t make the decision very difficult in an 8-4 loss.

He and rookie right-hander Kevin Gausman were optioned to Triple-A Norfolk following the game, creating roster space for the returning Wei-Yin Chen and likely another pitcher to work out of the bullpen on Wednesday night. Britton allowed eight hits and walked three while surrendered five runs in his five innings of work before giving way to Gausman in the sixth inning. The latter allowed two earned runs in 1 2/3 innings and threw 36 pitches, meaning he likely would have been unavailable for the next game or two if the Orioles had elected to keep him in Baltimore.

Britton is 2-3 with a 4.76 earned run average in six starts this yeaer while Gausman is 1-3 with a 6.21 ERA in nine appearances, five of them starts.

Though Britton’s final results in his previous three starts were acceptable, Tuesday saw the continuation of a disturbing trend for the 25-year-old as he again struggled immensely going through the opposing lineup a third time. The fatal blow was a three-run homer from Adrian Beltre in the fifth that followed two walks — one to No. 9 hitter Leonys Martin and the other to rookie shortstop Jurickson Profar — and two singles earlier in the inning. The sequence transformed a 2-1 lead at the start of the fifth into a 5-2 deficit the Orioles’ struggling offense would not overcome.

The opposition is batting .455 (15-for-33) with a homer, three doubles, and eight walks the third trip through the order against the southpaw, which explains why Britton hasn’t been able to complete six innings in four of his six starts with Baltimore this season. It’s natural for a pitcher to labor more later in the game as the pitch count increases and the opponent has seen him a few times, but such drastic decline in performance isn’t indicative of a pitcher that will have prolonged success as a starter.

Britton has also struggled to miss bats as he failed to record a strikeout Tuesday and has just 12 in 34 innings of work with the Orioles this season. A sinkerballer like Britton can typically get by with fewer strikeouts when he’s inducing groundball outs, but an anemic rate of 3.18 strikeouts per nine innings pitched means too many balls are being put in play, increasing the probability that some will find holes in any defense over time. Of course, it certainly didn’t help that Britton threw two poor pitches to Beltre on each of his two home runs, eliminating any possible excuse of it being bad luck.

For now, both Britton and Gausman are expected to rejoin Norfolk’s starting rotation, but it remains to be seen who will be accompanying Chen to the 25-man roster for Wednesday’s game. After Tuesday’s game, manager Buck Showalter alluded to the possibility of wanting another arm in the bullpen, presumably with some length.

Japanese lefty Tsuyoshi Wada is scheduled to start for the Tides on Thursday and right-hander Josh Stinson last pitched for Norfolk on Saturday, meaning both would likely be available in some capacity for a long-relief role on Wednesday. Both pitchers are also on the 40-man roster, which factors heavily considering this could just be a short-term move to take the club into the All-Star break.

(Update: Stinson has been recalled to pitch out of the bullpen.)

Chen will make his first start since May 12 on Wednesday and will also attempt to give the Orioles a much-needed lift after losses in five of their last six games.

Roberts, Reimold struggling in respective returns

Since their return from the disabled last week, Brian Roberts and Nolan Reimold have gone a combined 7-for-42, leading some to wonder if their presence has sent the Orioles into their current tailspin.

It’s true that neither has performed well in a small sample size of at-bats, but this theory is too simplistic and places too much blame on two easy targets due to their well-chronicled injury problems. To suggest Roberts and Reimold are the reason the Orioles suddenly can’t win provides an excuse for the rest of the lineup’s struggles and also discredits the mental toughness this club has shown over the last two seasons.

The Orioles are 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position in the Texas series and are hitting .138 (8-for-58) in that department over their last nine games. The individual struggles of Roberts and Reimold only account for a small piece of those overall failures.

First baseman Chris Davis has one hit in his last 21 at-bats to go along with 12 strikeouts.

Center fielder Adam Jones is 8-for-37 over the last nine games.

Matt Wieters is 6-for-26 and J.J. Hardy is 5-for-33 since June 30.

The point is few hitters in the order are clicking at the moment, making it unfair to single out two players coming off extended absences as the reason for the club’s struggles over the last 10 days. If Roberts were suddenly inserted in the No. 2 spot in the order and caused dramatic changes with other spots, I’d be more willing to listen to the argument. If any other player had provided consistent production at the designated hitter spot over the first three months of the season, the argument against Reimold would have more merit.

But neither of those points can be made. Roberts’ return has forced a hot-hitting Ryan Flaherty out of the lineup, but the latter’s regular role was chastised for the first 2 1/2 months of the season and Showalter has shown a willingness to find creative ways to give Flaherty at-bats. The Orioles won plenty over the first three months of the season despite little production at second base.

Roberts and Reimold will both need to produce sooner rather than later like anyone else — I’ve shared my doubts about each player — but a sample size of less than two weeks is premature to make any rash decisions. And it’s a major stretch to conclude the correlation between their returns and the Orioles’ current struggles is anything more than coincidental.

Fans’ frustration over their inability to stay on the field over the last few years is completely understandable, but there’s no evidence within the clubhouse that either player’s return has suddenly created a dark cloud over the club.

As Showalter often likes to say, the solution is for everyone to play better than they have to start the month of July, particularly the players on which the Orioles have leaned most heavily this season.

Little worry over Davis in the Derby

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Orioles option Britton, Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk

Posted on 09 July 2013 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced after Tuesday’s game that they have optioned left-handed pitcher Zach Britton and right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk.

Britton, 25, is 2-3 with a 4.76 ERA (34.0IP, 18ER) in six starts for the Orioles this season. He started tonight’s game and took the loss, allowing 5 earned runs in 5.0 innings.

Gausman, 22, is 1-3 with a 6.21 ERA (33.1IP, 23ER) in nine games (five starts) for the O’s this season.

Corresponding roster moves will be announced before Wednesday’s game.

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Orioles recall Jurrjens, designate Ishikawa for assignment

Posted on 29 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 — Needing a long reliever after using both T.J. McFarland and Kevin Gausman in Friday’s 4-3 win over the Yankees, the Orioles have recalled right-handed pitcher Jair Jurrjens and designated first baseman Travis Ishikawa for assignment.

Jurrjens will be available to pitch out of the bullpen for at least Saturday and possibly Sunday as manager Buck Showalter wants to stay away from McFarland and Gausman through the weekend. The Orioles are electing to keep Gausman on the 25-man roster as an option to make a start on the road trip this coming week should Wei-Yin Chen’s rehab start for Double-A Bowie not go well enough to feel confident you can activate him for his next start.

Ishikawa’s standing on the roster was always considered short-lived since his only true position is first base and he provides limited offense in backing up a man many consider to be the American League MVP to this point in the season in Chris Davis. The Orioles now have 10 days to trade Ishikawa or he must be put on waivers. Should he not be claimed, Ishikawa would then have the choice to accept an outright assignment to Norfolk or to become a free agent.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has been seeking a trade partner for Ishikawa over the last few weeks when it was apparent he intended to invoke his opt-out clause from his minor-league deal. The Orioles’ fear is the Yankees would claim Ishikawa to provide more help to their first base situation after it was learned that Mark Teixeira would miss the rest of the season with a wrist injury.

The 29-year-old Ishikawa went 2-for-17 in six games for the Orioles after hitting .316 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs in Norfolk.

“We’d like to have Travis back in Norfolk,” Showalter said. “I like Travis. He’s better than he’s shown here. I know that; you know that.”

Jurrjens, 27, is making his second trip to Baltimore after making his only start of the season against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 18. He didn’t factor in the decision but allowed four earned runs in five innings before being optioned back to Norfolk a few days later.

He is 5-5 with a 4.06 earned run average in 14 starts with the Tides this season.

After completing his rehab assignment with Norfolk, second baseman Brian Roberts arrived at Camden Yards Saturday and is expected to be activated from the 60-day disabled list on Sunday.

Outfielder Nolan Reimold is still scheduled to travel with the club to Chicago where he will be activated from the 15-day disabled list. He will continues his rehab assignment with Bowie through the weekend and entered Saturday’s game having gone 7-for-38 with a triple, four RBIs, and 12 strikeouts with the Baysox.

Showalter said the tentative plan for Chen would be for to pitch on Thursday in Chicago or Friday in New York if the organization is happy with what it sees in Saturday’s Double-A start. Should he pitch on Thursday, he could potentially make three starts prior to the All-Star break.

Wilson Betemit continues to make slow progress in Sarasota as he continues to build strength in his quad. The infielder suffered a Grade 2/3 PCL sprain in his right knee during spring training, an injury originally diagnosed to keep him sidelined for a minimum of eight weeks.

The 31-year-old did not have surgery on what was considered a serious injury, but the Orioles remain hopeful that he can make some contributions at some point after the All-Star break. When that will be, however, is anyone’s guess.

“It’d be nice to get Wilson back,” Showalter said, “but I don’t see a projectable date right now.”

Japanese left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada was scheduled to pitch for Norfolk on Saturday night and was not considered for the spot Jurrjens will fill at least for the next game or two. Showalter wants to see Wada continue to make progress over his next few starts after providing a more competitive effort over his last couple outings with the Tides.

 

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McFarland to make first major league start against Yankees Friday night

Posted on 28 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 — Orioles manager Buck Showalter offered a changeup to nearly everyone by announcing left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland will make his first major league start Friday against the Yankees instead of fellow rookie Kevin Gausman.

The assumption all week had been the latter would take the mound against New York after he was recalled Monday to pitch out of the bullpen if needed, but Showalter officially revealed his plan to go with McFarland following the Orioles’ 7-3 win over Cleveland on Thursday night.

“It’s his turn. He’s on four days of rest,” Showalter said. “He’s ready to go 80-plus pitches tomorrow, at least, and hopefully pitch five or six innings. The Yankees will have something to say about that. We’re in a position to cover whatever innings. We wanted to see how we did tonight.”

Gausman will be available to pitch out of the bullpen and could be a decent bet to receive some work on Friday with McFarland’s pitch count likely limiting him to four or five innings at most. McFarland, a Rule 5 selection that must remain on the 25-man roster all season or be offered back to Cleveland, has served as the long man in the bullpen through the first three months of the season.

McFarland is 1-0 with a 4.14 earned run average in 18 appearances covering 41 1/3 innings. He has averaged 7.8 strikeouts per nine innings pitched despite a sinking fastball that only sits in the high 80s.

“Mac is throwing the ball well and deserves an opportunity,” Showalter said. “We had a couple options. He was one of them, and that’s where we’re going to go tomorrow.”

A simple look at the Yankees lineup may have offered a better indication of which direction Showalter was leaning as Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, Robinson Cano, Lyle Overbay, and Travis Hafner are all left-handed hitters. McFarland has fared well against hitters from that side of the plate, holding them to a .250 average and striking out 21 of the 71 left-handed batters he’s faced this season.

With Wei-Yin Chen scheduled to make a rehab start for Double-A Bowie on Saturday, it’s possible that McFarland is only receiving a spot start as well as an opportunity to show what he can offer in a different role. The Taiwanese lefty could be activated from the disabled list as early as this coming week.

The only perplexing aspect of the decision is the use of Gausman in the bullpen considering he hasn’t pitched since June 19 when he made a start for Triple-A Norfolk. Assuming Chen’s rehab start goes well and he’s ready to return to the Baltimore rotation in his next outing — far from a guarantee — Gausman could be optioned back to Norfolk by the end of the weekend with McFarland moving back to his customary relief role.

Showalter also revealed that Brian Roberts won’t be activated from the DL for Friday night’s game, instead pointing to Saturday or Sunday as the more likely day for the 35-year-old second baseman’s return.

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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

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

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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