By Dan Connolly
The Baltimore Sun
8:00 AM EDT, September 29, 2012
There were two important developments on Friday at Camden Yards that could shed a little more light on who might pitch a one-game wild-card playoff next Friday.
Chris Tillman again pitched exceptionally well Friday night – a one-hitter over eight innings against the Boston Red Sox.
And Jason Hammel tested his right knee again Friday afternoon with a three-inning simulated game in the bullpen. He threw 47 pitches and rested in between each simulated inning, like he would during a game.
His next test comes Monday or Tuesday in Sarasota, Fla., when he pitches in an instructional league game. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said that Hammel would throw 4-6 innings, which theoretically would stretch him out enough to make a start early in the postseason.
“I think we'll have a better idea after Monday or Tuesday,” Showalter said. “If he comes through that with what we're probably going to do, expose him to, then it's more of a reality.”
If that instructional league game is Monday, Hammel could be set up to pitch the Friday wild-card game, assuming the Orioles are in it.
Tillman also would be a legitimate candidate for that Friday game. His regular turn is Wednesday at Tampa, but if that one has no playoff implications – if the wild-card and AL East races are already decided – then it’s possible he’d be pushed back to Friday.
Based simply on rotation turn, veteran lefty Joe Saunders pitches Sunday and would be in line to start Friday on regular rest. But you have to think Showalter would rather have Hammel or Tillman take that start.
And, since we are throwing out scenarios, Miguel Gonzalez can’t be dismissed. It’s likely he would pitch Tuesday, but also could be pushed back if Tuesday’s game has no additional meaning.
One thing looks likely: Wei-Yin Chen is scheduled for Monday’s start in Tampa. That would take him out of the running for Friday.
All of this, of course, changes if the Orioles have to play a one-game playoff for the division or the second Wild Card on Thursday. Or if they win the division and don’t have to play until Saturday.
So, yeah, stay tuned. Should be an interesting ride.
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