Even though Preston Guilmet has been primarily a one-inning pitcher at Triple-A Norfolk this season, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he believes the right-hander can provide the club with the long reliever it needs.
Three of Guilmet’s 13 outings this season have been two innings.
“Length in the American League is two innings,” Showalter said. “He’s capable of that. He’s rested and pitching well. Other than one hiccup, he’s been solid. The good news is that we had some options there.”
Showalter said there were several other options to fill the roster spot.
Right-hander Josh Stinson is pitching well, and while Showalter said it wasn't an issue that Stinson isn't on the 40-man roster, he can't be optioned again. Right-hander Steve Johnson was another possibility, but Showalter said he didn’t want to bring him up with three days rest after he threw 89 pitches in his second outing off the disabled list.
Showalter also said right-hander Kevin Gausman, who made his first start off the DL on Saturday, is becoming an option to help the team.
“He’s put up with some pretty serious stuff,” Showalter said. “We obviously didn’t want it to be an oblique, but also the other medical issue he had. That’s behind him. ... He felt good the day after pitching Saturday. Now that he’s back healthy again, yeah, we look at all of our pitchers down there as options."
Showalter lauded Guilmet’s minor league numbers. In six minor league seasons, he is 20-15 with a 2.71 ERA and 94 saves. Last year with the Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A team in Columbus, he was 5-4 with a 1.68 ERA and 20 saves.
“You always try to give the other organization credit because they know guys better than we do, but there are not going to be many of these 24 pitchers who are here tonight who have a better minor league resume than he does,” Showalter said. “He’s really only had one transition to the big leagues and one opportunity. We were fortunate, hopefully, to trade for him. A pitcher like that, with that background, with options is hard to find.”
Asked what Steve Clevenger, who has been moved into a starting role with Matt Wieters on the DL, will have to show, Showalter said that retaining information day-to-day, as well as gaining the trust of the pitching staff, playing solid defense and calling a good game will be the most important factors.
“It’s not like we had a long track record with him," Showalter said. "It wasn’t like we had three or four years in the minor leagues of quality people telling me what to expect and where it was going to go. I wouldn’t say we were surprised, but there was some unknown. ... In spring training, we were really happy that he could be that guy. He was really engaged in catching. We’ve had some guys in the past in that role where it was all about their offense. They were driving in one and letting in two or three because of their decisions.
“There’s still some unknown with him. What’s it going to be like to catch five, six days in a row?”
Showalter pointed out that the Orioles are second in the game in the least amount of time between pitches, which he said is a tribute to how the pitchers trust Wieters calling a game.
Clevenger has thrown out just two of 13 runners attempting to steal (15 percent), below the league average of 26 percent. But Showalter said there have been a number of reasons why that rate has been low.
“He’s got plenty of arm strength to throw people out,” Showalter said. “Arm strength is not an issue. He’s had a couple transfers. You’ve got to get it out the first time, especially at third base. I think you’ll see that improve. I think in a couple of cases, we didn’t do a good job of giving him a chance. He’ll throw out the people he’s supposed to throw out.
T.J. McFarland, the left-hander who was optioned after pitching three innings in relief Sunday, will start in Norfolk.
Orioles starter Bud Norris has allowed three or fewer runs in four of his last five starts, but he is 0-2 with a 7.41 ERA in three career starts against the Detroit Tigers. He allowed five runs and nine hits over five innings against the Tigers on April 5 in Detroit.
Here are tonight's starting lineups: