Orioles manager Buck Showalter called rookie left-hander T.J. McFarland into his office following Thursday night win over Cleveland and asked him what time he usually comes to the park.
“I said, ‘Why don’t you get here around 3:30 and be ready to pitch the first inning instead of the second, third, fourth, fifth, seventh inning,” Showalter said. “He deserves an opportunity and he’s pitches well. He’s had four days off. We said all along, and we let New York know, it was going to be either him or [Kevin] Gausman depending on how we got through the games.”
The Orioles’ decision to give McFarland the start – it will be his first major league start after spending the entire season as a reliever – was a surprise. Most assumed Gausman would pitch if he wasn’t used out of the bullpen.
“There’s an opportunity there to present himself as somebody who should get more opportunities. Shame on us if we don’t give him an opportunity like we’ve given a lot of people by necessity,” Showalter said. “You look at how we got here, from Freddy [Garcia] to Jake [Arrieta] to some other things, it came down to him and Gaus.”
McFarland's time in the Orioles rotation might correlate with left-hander Wei-Yin Chen's nearing activation from the disabled list. The Orioles might need McFarland for just one start if Chen is ready to be activated off the DL after just one rehab start. Chen starts tomorrow at Bowie and with Monday’s off day, he could fill a rotation hole Thursday in Chicago.
“The way the logistics work, and the way we set it that way, for Chen to pitch tomorrow and then we’ll hopefully we’ll have an idea of where he is,” Showalter said.
Whether this is a spot start or not, McFarland was eventually going to get a start. And in three outings on four days rest, he’s pitched well, pitching to a 1.80 ERA. He is coming off his longest outing of the season, a 4 1/3-inning outing in long relief in Toronto on Sunday, so he can definitely give the Orioles some length.
Orioles bullpen coach Bill Castro will accompany Chen on his rehab start Saturday. Einar Diaz will serve as bullpen coach here.
Other items of note
-- Brian Roberts, who is batting leadoff and starting at second base tonight for Triple-A Norfolk, is slated to play nine innings today and then travel to Baltimore tomorrow. He is still scheduled to be activated for Sunday’s game barring the team needing him Saturday.
-- Nolan Reimold “continues to move the arrow up” on his rehab assignment at Double-A Bowie, Showalter said. He still could potentially join the team for their road trip to Chicago and New York.
-- Wilson Betemit (Grade 2/3 right PCL tear) has resumed baseball activities. His rehab was slowed when he needed to develop more strength in his quad muscle and he had backed off slightly in recent days.
-- Steve Pearce (left wrist tendinitis) still hasn’t resumed baseball activities after getting cortisone shots in his left wrist. Both wrists are still sore.
-- Orioles pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, the organization’s No. 5 prospect according to Baseball America, was promoted from high Class-A Frederick to Double-A Bowie. Rodriguez was 6-4 with a 2.85 ERA in 14 starts with the Keys. He also threw a scoreless inning in the Carolina-California League All-Star Game and was named to the MLB All-Star Futures Game earlier this week.
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