Right-hander Jake Arrieta’s demotion to the bullpen didn’t last long.
Arrieta will start tonight against the Pirates here at Camden Yards, as Orioles manager Buck Showalter decided to push scheduled starter Brian Matusz back two days after he bunted a ball off his nose before Tuesday’s game.
Arrieta, who has lost eight of his last nine starts, will work on normal rest, which made the decision easy for the Orioles. Arrieta was told he would start about four hours before the game.
Matusz said he could have pitched today – X-rays taken Tuesday night were negative and he could breathe fine through his nose – but Showalter said he didn’t want to risk Matusz having problems breathing early in his start, forcing the Orioles to use the bullpen early.
“He was talking today about cleaning some of the blood out and there’s still a little fresh blood there now and again,” Showalter said. “He said he actually slept better than he has in a long time. I was talking to him about his breathing during the night. And if he has a problem with it in the first or second inning, you have to use a lot of the bullpen, which could happen with anybody for other reasons. But we were fortunate to be able to give him a couple more days.”
The Orioles could have turned to Triple-A Norfolk for a starter, but throwing Arrieta seemed to be better than their options in the minors.
The club wants to give 49-year-old left-hander Jamie Moyer one more start before considering bringing him up. Right-hander Chris Tillman’s last start on Monday was called after five innings because of rain. And the Orioles would like to see right-hander Miguel Gonzalez begin to become stretched out as a starter before returning. (He could have been recalled if a player was put on the DL, despite not being in Triple-A for the required 10 days.)
“Out of all the things we had the option to do, it probably looked the best or fit the best and kind of what it kept us from doing,” Showalter said.
Matusz will now start Friday’s series opener in Atlanta, which allows the Orioles to move right-hander Jason Hammel, originally slated for Friday, to pitch Saturday. Showalter said that allows Hammel to pitch in only one National League home park, where he’d have to hit. Otherwise, Hammel – who has been nursing a sore right knee – would have had to pitch and hit against the Mets on Wednesday.
Tommy Hunter is scheduled to pitch Thursday in the series finale against Pittsburgh.