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Wilson to make start for Orioles against Tampa Bay on Friday

Posted on 17 September 2015 by Luke Jones

Beginning their final road trip of the 2015 season and needing a historic finish to qualify for the postseason, the Orioles have made a change to their starting rotation.

Prior to the start of a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, the Orioles announced that right-handed pitcher Tyler Wilson will start Friday’s game with Wei-Yin Chen and Kevin Gausman each being pushed back a day. Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in St. Petersburg that Ubaldo Jimenez would start in Washington on Monday night.

Wilson’s inclusion in the rotation comes after right-hander Mike Wright was roughed up in his latest start, continuing his struggles at the major league level. In his first two starts for the Orioles this season, Wright tossed 14 1/3 scoreless innings. Since then, the 25-year-old has pitched to a 9.53 ERA in 8 appearances (seven starts) spanning 28 1/3 innings.

The Orioles may have turned to Wilson instead of Wright when Miguel Gonzalez began experiencing shoulder tendinitis, but the former was dealing with a strained oblique at the time. Wilson has a 2.19 ERA in 24 2/3 innings for the Orioles this season with most of that work coming in relief.

In his two starts, the 25-year-old allowed four earned runs in 13 2/3 innings. His best outing came in Oakland on Aug. 3 when he gave up just two earned runs in 7 2/3 innings.

It’s fair to ask whether Wilson will miss enough bats at the major league level as he’s struck out only seven batters in his 24 2/3 innings, but his work earlier in the season as well as his 3.24 ERA at Triple-A Norfolk in 2015 make him deserving of a look.

Showalter also told reporters on Thursday that Gonzalez could be ready to return as early as next weekend in Boston.

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Orioles can only wonder what might have been while looking to 2016

Posted on 17 September 2015 by Luke Jones

It was one year ago Wednesday that the Orioles officially clinched their first American League East title since 1997.

But this Sept. 16 brought a much different feeling as many in an announced crowd of 22,642 at Camden Yards were chased away by an early 9-0 deficit and the Orioles wrapped up their penultimate homestand of 2015 with a 10-1 loss to Boston.

Under typical circumstances, winning three consecutive series and completing a 4-2 homestand are nice consolations in a blowout defeat, but the Orioles now embark on a 10-game road trip trailing the second wild card spot by 5 1/2 games, needing a historic finish to even give themselves a chance. Baltimore not only would need to catch Houston, but three other clubs — Minnesota, Los Angeles, and Cleveland — must be passed in the process, making any loss devastating at this point.

The many reasons for the Orioles’ shortcomings are obvious in mid-September as a terrible offseason led to a maddeningly inconsistent offense and the starting pitching that was so strong last season completely fell apart in 2015. But even with the well-documented free-agent departures, the offensive struggles, and the poor starter ERA, the Orioles can still point to a stretch of 12 losses in 13 games that began in late August and lasted through Labor Day — their worst baseball over that period of time in four years — and wonder what might have been had they avoided such a dramatic slide.

Even going 6-7 over those 13 games — hardly an impressive feat — would have left the Orioles only 1/2 game behind Houston for the second wild card as they began a road trip against Tampa Bay, Washington, and Boston.

Of course, you can pick out any stretch of prosperity or futility over 162 games for these types of arguments as someone else could say the Orioles would be locked into last place had they not won 18 of 23 games in June. Ultimately, they’re right where they deserve to be after playing such inconsistent baseball over 5 1/2 months, but that 1-12 stretch that began with a stunning four-game sweep at home against the Twins will likely eat at Buck Showalter and his players throughout the winter.

Pondering next year’s rotation

With a 4.61 starter ERA ranking 14th out of 15 AL clubs and their most consistent starter Wei-Yin Chen set to become a free agent, the Orioles will be faced with the unenviable task of revamping a rotation that became their biggest weakness after being a strength in 2014.

Realistically, which pitchers make up your starting five next season?

Assuming super agent Scott Boras will command No. 2 starter money and a long-term contract for the 30-year-old Chen, the Orioles are unlikely to sign him and he may not bring the greatest return on a big-money contract anyway. The Taiwanese lefty remains on pace to allow a career-high 31 home runs and has never pitched 200 innings in a season, but he will still be difficult to replace.

Chris Tillman is in the midst of a poor season skewed dramatically by his nightmarish struggles against Toronto (15.50 ERA in five starts), but his track record over the previous three seasons all but guarantees him a spot in the 2016 rotation. That said, extension talks should be tabled for now.

Kevin Gausman hasn’t taken the step forward you’d like to have seen in 2015, but much of that can be attributed to the organization’s poor decision to put him in the bullpen to begin the year. Whether he ever becomes a top-of-the-rotation guy remains to be seen, but he’s shown enough to be one of the five.

Ubaldo Jimenez? You’d love to dump that contract, but there are 26.5 million reasons over the next two years to think a trade is unlikely to happen.

Miguel Gonzalez was in the midst of the worst two-month stretch of his career before going to the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis earlier this month, but he was too good for three years just to bury him. Maybe he shouldn’t be promised a rotation spot, but he’ll enter the spring with every opportunity to earn one.

Dylan Bundy will be out of minor-league options, but his lack of experience still makes him a long shot to fill anything but a long relief role to begin 2016. The former first-round pick needs to prove he can stay healthy before anything else is even discussed.

Sure, young pitchers such as Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright will garner looks — the latter seems destined for the bullpen with his latest struggles — but it’s clear executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette should be looking to add at least one impact starting pitcher — a second would really help — to augment the rotation. Beyond that, you can be cautiously optimistic that the track records of the incumbents will lead to at least a couple bounce-back performances in 2016.

Below Par-ra

Remember the angst over the Orioles needing to re-sign outfielder Gerardo Parra this offseason when he was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers for minor-league pitcher Zach Davies at the trade deadline?

The 28-year-old was in the midst of the best season of his career with a .328 average and an .886 on-base plus slugging percentage at the time of the trade, but he’s hit just .226 with a .619 OPS with Baltimore and has been worth -0.6 wins above replacement, according to Baseball Reference. Instead of providing the spark the Orioles needed for the final two months, Parra has been swallowed up by the Orioles’ 2015 corner-outfield wasteland.

At the time of the trade, the Orioles were essentially hoping to cash in on another club’s version of a 2014 Steve Pearce for the final two months, but Parra has been worse than the player he was over the first six years of his career when he sported a .720 OPS. His career .595 OPS against left-handed pitching makes him an obvious platoon player, which is how Showalter has used him over the last couple weeks.

Even if the club feels inclined to bring him back — to be fair, he’s better than what he’s shown so far with the Orioles — Parra should hardly be viewed as a priority and doesn’t deserve big-time money to stay as he’s been no better for the Orioles than the likes of Alejandro De Aza and Travis Snider were this season.

Managing Hardy

Watching J.J. Hardy post Belanger-like numbers for Ripken-like money in 2015 has been painful, but a portion of the blame probably needs to go to Showalter.

It’s no secret that Hardy has dealt with several physical ailments that have led to his OPS free-falling from .738 in 2013 to .682 last season to a career-worst .552 in 2015, but a simple look at his game log shows inadequate consideration for his long-term health. Not counting time he’s actually spent on the DL or when he’s missed a few games with a specific injury, Hardy has received very few games off over long stretches of time. For example, the veteran shortstop started every game the Orioles played from June 5 through Aug. 11, only enjoying rest provided by the schedule or the weather gods.

In order to salvage the final two seasons of a three-year, $40 million contract signed last October, not only does Hardy need to find a way to get healthy in the offseason and stay that way, but the Orioles can no longer treat him like a player who’s going to play 155-plus games a season. Periodic days off and resting him for day games after night contests like a catcher should become the norm for the 33-year-old dealing with back and shoulder problems. Sliding over Manny Machado or playing Ryan Flaherty at shortstop more often is worth it if it means Hardy can contribute more at the plate.

Hardy’s defense remains good, but his offense has been a substantial liability this season. No one should expect a return to his level of production from 2011-2013, but the Orioles need Hardy to at least offer what he did at the plate in 2014 to prevent his contract from being a total disaster over the next two years. More rest over the course of the season would appear to give him a better chance of doing that.

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Struggling Gonzalez undergoes MRI on shoulder, elbow

Posted on 01 September 2015 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 11:30 p.m.)

BALTIMORE — Performing poorly for more than two months, Orioles starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Tuesday as he’s been experiencing discomfort in his right elbow and shoulder.

Manager Buck Showalter said after the 11-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays that the exam revealed only inflammation and no structural concerns, but the 31-year-old has already received a cortisone injection in his shoulder and is expected to at least miss a start or two. The right-handed hurler could pitch again later this month, according to Showalter.

“It was a positive report. They didn’t find any structural damage,” Showalter said. “We’re going to let that quiet down [and] see if we can get him ready to pitch again. It was as good news as you could expect.”

Gonzalez sported a 3.33 ERA when he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a groin strain on June 11. Since returning in late June, the right-hander has pitched to a 6.49 ERA that’s elevated his season mark to a robust 4.85.

Signed to a minor-league contract prior to the 2012 season, Gonzalez posted an ERA of 3.78 or better in each of his first three seasons with the Orioles and has been a mainstay in the starting rotation for two postseason clubs over that time. The organization had hoped there was nothing structurally wrong with his elbow since he already underwent Tommy John surgery in 2009.

The Orioles no longer plan to place Gonzalez on the DL, which would have allowed them to recall another player who has not fulfilled his 10-day minimum in the minors such as the recently-demoted Henry Urrutia.

On Tuesday, right-handed pitcher Tyler Wilson (oblique) threw a four-inning simulated game and fellow right-hander Mike Wright (calf) started for Norfolk, pitching six shutout innings in a win over Charlotte. Wright is considered a strong option to replace Gonzalez in the Baltimore starting rotation.

Showalter had been considering pushing right-hander Kevin Gausman’s start back to Friday in Toronto, but the 24-year-old will pitch the finale against the Rays as scheduled.

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Lough becomes latest Orioles outfielder to be designated for assignment

Posted on 14 August 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles continued their purge of disappointing corner outfielders on Friday by designating David Lough for assignment prior to their series opener against the Oakland Athletics.

With Matt Wieters currently nursing a hamstring strain, catcher Steve Clevenger was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to take Lough’s place on the 25-man roster. Lough, 29, became the fifth Orioles outfielder to be designated for assignment since late May, joining Alejandro De Aza, Delmon Young, Chris Parmelee, and Travis Snider as players who failed as part of the offseason plan to replace free-agent departures Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis.

Originally acquired to replace former Oriole Nate McLouth in left field two winters ago, Lough never established himself at the plate and was relegated to a role as a late-inning defensive replacement and pinch runner for much of his two seasons with Baltimore. The July 31 acquisition of Gerardo Parra made Lough even more expendable because of his ability to back up Adam Jones in center field, a role that he held for the last two years.

After hitting .247 in 197 plate appearances last season, Lough was hitting just .202 in 2015 and was mired in a 2-for-26 slump in early July.

Manager Buck Showalter expressed hope that Lough would remain with the organization and accept an outright assignment to Norfolk if he goes unclaimed on waivers. The Orioles would then consider him for a September call-up.

Clevenger went 5-for-11 in a brief stint with the Orioles earlier this year and has had an impressive season for Norfolk, batting .305 with four home runs, 32 RBIs, and a .769 on-base plus slugging percentage. The organization has also been pleased with his improved defense behind the plate, a weakness of his when acquired from the Chicago Cubs in 2013.

The Orioles have also summoned Norfolk outfielder Henry Urrutia to Norfolk and are expected to activate him for Saturday’s game, meaning another roster move is coming. The Cuban outfielder hasn’t played for Baltimore since hitting .276 in 58 plate appearances in 2013, but the lefty is batting .292 with 10 homers and 50 RBIs for the Tides this season.

It doesn’t look like the Orioles will make room for Urrutia by placing Wieters on the disabled list as the three-time All-Star catcher said prior to Friday’s game that his hamstring is feeling much better, joking that he’s closed to being back to his normal “slow speed” on the bases. The 29-year-old said he would be available off the bench if needed, but Clevenger being recalled reflects a desire to stay away from using Wieters for at least another day or two if possible.

Right-hander Chris Tillman will complete his bullpen session on Saturday and is still in line to make Monday’s start despite being struck with a line drive on the right triceps during his last start in Seattle.

Right-handed relief pitcher Chaz Roe received a cortisone injection in his right shoulder and is responding well, leading to optimism that he’ll be ready to return after the 15-day minimum on the DL.

Steve Pearce is now taking batting practice in Sarasota as his injured oblique continues to improve. The Orioles hope he can begin a minor-league rehab assignment as early as the beginning of next week.

Right-hander Mike Wright is still feeling “tentative” when running and pushing off with his calf as Showalter did not make it sound like his return from the DL was imminent.

According to Showalter, pitching prospect Hunter Harvey’s throwing program is proceeding well as he continues to throw off flat ground. The organization is deciding whether he will pitch this fall and where that might take place.

Showalter also said that 22-year-old pitcher Dylan Bundy will have an appointment with Dr. James Andrews at the end of the month to determine how his shoulder is progressing after extensive rest.

Right-handed pitcher Tyler Wilson is currently on the minor-league seven-day DL and is improving, but his return from an oblique strain is not considered imminent.

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Orioles’ trade deadline activity sends mixed signals

Posted on 31 July 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles are a better club after Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline came and went.

At least I think they are.

The acquisition of Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Gerardo Parra in exchange for minor-league pitcher Zach Davies provides an upgrade at the corner outfield positions that have been a wasteland for most of the 2015 season. Even if it’s a stretch to expect the 28-year-old left-handed hitter to sustain his career-high .328 average and gaudy .886 on-base plus slugging percentage in 2015, the organization doesn’t seem overly concerned with giving up Davies, a 22-year-old right-hander who has pitched well over the last couple years but doesn’t project to be more than an eventual No. 4 or No. 5 starter at best in the majors.

Despite lacking the commodities to trade for high-profile names, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette succeeded in adding one of the better outfield bats in the National League this year to replace the struggling Chris Parmelee on the active roster. Time will tell how the two-time Gold Glove outfielder performs over the next two months and whether the Orioles will sign the pending free agent this offseason, but he’s a distinct improvement over the likes of Travis Snider, Nolan Reimold, and David Lough.

However, the second trade of the day that sent veteran relief pitcher Tommy Hunter to the Chicago Cubs for 25-year-old outfielder Junior Lake sent a different message as it relates to the Orioles’ chances in 2015.

Hunter may not have been the Orioles’ best late-inning pitcher and had some rough stretches over the years, but the 29-year-old logged plenty of meaningful innings over the last four seasons and was better than many wanted to admit. In contrast, Lake was no longer regarded as a valuable piece in the Cubs system with a career .663 on-base plus slugging percentage in 642 career plate appearances in the majors and was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk upon being acquired.

The Orioles will point out that they now have two optionable pieces in their bullpen with talented rookie right-handers Mychal Givens and Mike Wright replacing Hunter and the disappointing Bud Norris, moves that create the roster flexibility the organization desires. It’s even possible that Givens or Wright — or both — will net better results than Hunter as both are held in high regard for the future, but neither are proven in the majors, especially in the midst of an anticipated pennant race.

But those reasons distract from the real motivation behind dealing Hunter minutes before the deadline.

It was a salary dump.

Asked whether there were financial reasons for the Hunter trade that followed the addition of Parra, Duquette pointed out that the Orioles added payroll on Friday, which is true. The Orioles will pay the remainder of Parra’s $6.24 million salary — a sum in the neighborhood of $2.25 million — but a sizable portion of that will be offset by the rest of Hunter’s $4.65 million for the 2015 season coming off the books.

Hunter was unlikely to be re-signed after the season and was unlikely to be a major variable in determining whether the Orioles make the playoffs or not, but it’s difficult to accept that the trade improved their chances to make the playoffs in 2015, which was supposed to be the whole point on Friday. Considering Hunter’s popularity in the Baltimore clubhouse, his former teammates are likely thinking the same thing.

It doesn’t help that the move came on the same day that the Orioles designated Norris for assignment, bringing the total amount of money they originally committed to jettisoned players from the first 25-man roster of 2015 to $22.9 million. Ultimately, Hunter became the victim of too many other sunk costs, and you hope the Orioles bullpen doesn’t suffer down the stretch because of it.

While seeing other contending clubs add significant money to their payrolls to improve their chances to contend, it’s disheartening to see the Orioles subtract from its bullpen — the strongest part of the club — in the name of saving a relatively insignificant amount of money to pay Parra. And it leaves another question until someone else proves he’s ready to pick up the slack in Hunter’s spot in the bullpen.

Yes, it appears the Orioles improved themselves on Friday.

I’m just not sure by how much after they completed two very different trades.


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Orioles trade Hunter to Cubs for outfielder Junior Lake

Posted on 31 July 2015 by WNST Staff

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Orioles call up hard-throwing Givens from Double-A Bowie

Posted on 20 June 2015 by Luke Jones

The Orioles made a series of roster moves prior to the second game of a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon.

As expected, right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman was activated from the 15-day disabled list to make his first start of the season, but the Orioles also added a fresh arm to their bullpen by selecting the contract of right-handed pitcher Mychal Givens from Double-A Bowie. Right-handed pitchers Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson were optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to make room on the 25-man roster.

Originally drafted as a shortstop in 2009, the 25-year-old Givens has impressed manager Buck Showalter and other members of the organization this year with a mid-90s fastball from a three-quarters arm slot that has led to a 1.60 ERA, 12 saves, and 54 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings. With Wilson having thrown 78 pitches in relief after Wright lasted just 1 1/3 innings on Friday night, Baltimore wanted more length in its bullpen against the highest-scoring offense in the major leagues.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Givens, the Orioles placed right-handed pitcher Jason Garcia (shoulder) on the 60-day disabled list.

With Wright turning in his worst performance of the season on Friday, it’s unclear when he will receive another opportunity in the Baltimore starting rotation. After pitching 14 1/3 scoreless innings in his first two major league starts last month, the 25-year-old right-hander has allowed 17 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings over his last four starts.

Meanwhile, Wilson continues to impress as he’s pitched to a 2.12 ERA in 17 innings for the Orioles this season.

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Orioles thoughts on pitching and outfield situation

Posted on 15 June 2015 by Luke Jones

Sunday was a forgettable day for Orioles rookie Mike Wright, but manager Buck Showalter was correct in pointing out the starting pitcher experienced some tough luck, especially early in the game.

The 25-year-old gave up a number of hits that weren’t exactly tattooed by the Yankees, but the biggest problem for Wright has been his inability to put hitters away — New York fouled off 13 pitches with two strikes in his four-plus innings of work — which often leads to a pitcher making a mistake. This not only drives up the pitch count, but it puts more pressure on the pitcher as Wright crumbled in the top of the fifth walking three straight hitters to conclude his afternoon.

His mid-90s fastball certainly plays at the major league level, but Wright’s slider and changeup haven’t been impressive, making you wonder if he’ll have the stuff to make it as a starting pitcher in the long run. I’m not ready to give up on the idea of Wright as a major league starter, but I do think his fastball could be very tough to handle in a late-inning relief role in which he’s only working an inning or so at a time. It wouldn’t be difficult seeing Wright eventually stepping into the role occupied by Tommy Hunter, who is a free agent at the end of the 2015 season.

Either way, Wright has work to do to improve his secondary stuff.

* I have no idea how long outfielder Nolan Reimold can continue this, but he’s provided a nice lift in his first week back with the Orioles.

I never doubted the 31-year-old’s ability early in his career, but you had to wonder whether the talent would still be there after two serious neck injuries in 2012 and 2013. Acknowledging it’s only been a handful of games, we’ve seen the combination of power, speed, and defensive ability that had the Orioles and their fans salivating about his potential years ago.

You can only cross your fingers that a guy who’s had terrible luck with injuries can stay healthy and the Orioles shouldn’t assume that he can stay on the field for the long haul, but Showalter should pencil his name into the starting lineup every day until there’s a reason not to.

* Speaking of outfielders, you probably wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d told you in February that Travis Snider would be hitting .252 in his first 150 plate appearances for the Orioles, but his lack of power has been startling.

After hitting nine home runs and slugging .524 in the second half for Pittsburgh last year, the Orioles hoped they were getting a 27-year-old and former first-round pick who was finally blooming at the plate after years of struggles, but Snider is slugging a career-low .326 with just one homer and seven extra-base hits and rarely makes sharp contact or shows the ability to drive the ball. In contrast, ex-Oriole Nick Markakis has a higher slugging percentage at .367 — still a poor mark — despite not yet hitting a home run for Atlanta this season.

You have to wonder if Snider is running out of chances as the Orioles desperately need an effective lefty-hitting outfielder and Chris Parmelee is producing at Triple-A Norfolk.

* The Orioles hope to see Bud Norris improve enough to finish out the season in the starting rotation, but I wouldn’t be keen on the idea of re-signing him this winter.

A club will likely overpay for the right-hander based on his 2014 season, but Norris hasn’t been able to duplicate his success against left-handed hitters this season. Relying on an effective changeup to hold lefties to a .255 average and .753 on-base plus slugging percentage in 2014, Norris has been lit up by lefty bats this season to the tune of a 1.035 OPS as he’s been unable to command the off-speed pitch as effectively.

Norris has always handled right-handed hitters, but his problems against lefties have plagued him for most of his career, which is the biggest reason why he’s been nothing more than an average starting pitcher other than last season. In reality, he’d probably be better suited for the bullpen on a competitive club, but Norris would hardly embrace such a role in a contract year.

* You get the sense that Showalter is beginning to use Delmon Young more and more like he did last season, which isn’t a bad thing for the Orioles.

Young has shown little power (a .358 slugging percentage), but he does sport a .327 average against left-handed pitching, making him an obvious start against southpaws. It was interesting to see David Lough hit for Young against right-hander Sergio Santos on Saturday night — Showalter said he wanted to give the young outfielder an at-bat even though the Orioles only led by three runs at the time — and then Matt Wieters was sent to the plate in Young’s place to face Dellin Betances in the ninth inning on Sunday.

It would be helpful if Dan Duquette could at least find an effective platoon partner for Young for the rest of the season.

* With southpaws Brian Matusz and T.J. McFarland both struggling to throw strikes this season, the Orioles are hoping that Wesley Wright can settle into the lefty specialist role upon completing his minor-league rehab assignment.

On the disabled list since the first week of the season with a left trapezius strain, Wright is expected to join an affiliate any day now and could make Matusz expendable if he proves he’s healthy and can throw strikes.

* Adam Jones is a four-time Gold Glove center fielder and certainly doesn’t need validation, but there have been a couple points in his career when he was probably a little overrated as a defender.

But strictly going off the eyeball test — his fielding metrics have been good, for what it’s worth — Jones has never played better defense than what we’ve seen from him this year. The 29-year-old has not only been steady and consistent, but he’s made countless sensational plays — just ask the Boston Red Sox about last week’s series — running down balls in the gap or making exceptional throws to gun down runners trying to take an extra base.

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Orioles recall Wilson to reinforce burdened bullpen

Posted on 14 June 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Needing to reinforce a bullpen that’s carried a heavy load over the last week, the Orioles recalled right-handed pitcher Tyler Wilson prior to Sunday’s series finale with the New York Yankees.

Despite winning six straight games to move back over the .500 mark, the Orioles have gone seven consecutive games without a starting pitcher completing six innings, which has placed a great burden on the bullpen. Orioles relievers have more than been up to the task — allowing only one run in 19 1/3 innings in the first five games of the current homestand — but manager Buck Showalter can’t continue to ask his bullpen to pitch roughly four innings per contest if he wants the group to remain effective.

To make room for Wilson on the 25-man roster, the Orioles optioned lefty reliever T.J. McFarland to Triple-A Norfolk. McFarland had pitched on Friday and Saturday and has been struggling with his command, allowing eight walks in 9 1/3 innings with Baltimore this season. Showalter wants to see the 26-year-old work out of the bullpen with the Tides, focusing on entering in the middle of innings with runners on base.

“We want to get him in the bullpen there and simulating situations he’s coming into here in the middle of an inning,” said Showalter, who added that McFarland is also dropping down to the side too much with his arm slot. “He’s had a little problem in the middle of an inning compared to starting an inning. I think some of that’s our fault.”

On the surface, McFarland’s 1.93 ERA suggests his performance has been strong, but walking 7.7 hitters per nine innings and a 2.14 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) tell the real story of how he’s fared this season.

Left-hander Brian Matusz also rejoined the bullpen Sunday after serving the final game of his suspension on Saturday night. With rookie Mike Wright starting the series finale, the Orioles maintained a seven-man bullpen with Wilson and Matusz replacing Wright and McFarland.

In three appearances for the Orioles earlier this season, Wilson posted a 3.38 ERA in eight innings. His one start in Baltimore came on May 28 when he allowed two runs in six innings of work in a 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

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Orioles release infielder Everth Cabrera

Posted on 13 June 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — After designating veteran Everth Cabrera for assignment last week, the Orioles officially announced his release prior to Saturday’s game against the New York Yankees.

In 29 games this season, Cabrera batted .208 with two doubles, four RBIs, two stolen bases, and a .479 on-base plus slugging percentage. The 28-year-old was signed to a one-year, $2.4 million contract in late February and filled in for the injured J.J. Hardy for the first month of the season.

The Orioles hoped that Cabrera might provide an upgrade as a utility infielder or potential competition for the 23-year-old Jonathan Schoop at second base, but the former San Diego Padre struggled immensely at the plate and didn’t provide as much defensive versatility as utility man Ryan Flaherty. On the hook for the remainder of Cabrera’s 2015 salary, the Orioles have now parted ways with their second veteran player this month after trading outfielder Alejandro De Aza to the Boston Red Sox on June 3.

Manager Buck Showalter expects Cabrera to draw plenty of interest from other clubs as a free agent. The infielder had a minor-league option at the beginning of the season but had since accrued his fifth full year of service time, which allowed him to to refuse a minor-league assignment.

“You don’t go down that road that we went with him last week if you didn’t feel good about your replacements,” Showalter said. “He played some shortstop for us at a pretty good level until we got J.J. back. He’s capable of swinging the bat better. He’ll get an opportunity.”

In other news, Showalter reconfirmed that the plan was to start right-hander Mike Wright on Sunday if he wasn’t needed out of the bullpen in the second game of the three-game series.

Left-hander Brian Matusz returned to the Baltimore clubhouse on Saturday afternoon before serving the final contest of an eight-game ban. The Orioles were 6-1 in the first seven games of his suspension despite playing with a 24-man roster.

The southpaw specialist will rejoin the bullpen on Sunday.

“You see how he comes out of spring when he starts out with a changeup and he pitches multiple innings every outing,” said Showalter about Matusz, who was working out in Sarasota over the last week. “I’m confident we’re going to get a pretty sharp guy tomorrow. I hope so. He’ll get a chance to pitch.”

Pitching prospect Dylan Bundy will undergo a second magnetic resonance imaging exam on his right shoulder just to confirm that he was only dealing with tendinitis.

Fellow prospect Hunter Harvey remains shut down with a flexor mass strain in his right forearm, but Showalter said the 20-year-old right-hander is progressing nicely.

Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia continues to get stronger in Sarasota while recovering from right shoulder tendinitis, but it remains unclear when he will begin a minor-league rehab assignment.

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