SEATTLE – The Orioles will continue to utilize matchups in reworking their starting rotation this week following Monday’s day off.
The team will push back left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, who was in line to start Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels at Camden Yards. Instead, he'll start Friday’s series opener against the Seattle Mariners.
The Orioles now will start right-handers Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman and Bud Norris in their three-game series against the Angels, which starts Tuesday.
The move allows the Orioles to avoid starting Chen against an Angels team that has played extremely well against left-handed pitching. Heading into Sunday, against left-handers, the Angels were hitting .278 as a team and led the majors with a .342 on-base percentage and a .448 slugging percentage.
It also allows Chen to pitch against a Mariners team against which he just threw eight shutout innings in a 4-0 win Thursday. Looking ahead, the move also projects Chen to start in next week's series at Rogers Centre against the Toronto Blue Jays, who are the American League's best team against right-handed pitching (.270 average, .338 OBP, .443 slugging).
The day off also allows Gausman and Norris to pitch on regular rest.
“Wei-Yin had his top pitch count of the year, and I want to keep Gaus on turn,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I think he can benefit from that.”
Heading into Saturday’s game, Showalter had contemplated starting left-hander T.J. McFarland on Sunday and pushing right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who has pitched well against the Angels, back to Tuesday to give everyone in the rotation an extra day of rest.
But McFarland was needed against a left-handed-heavy Mariners lineup Saturday, and he pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings on just 15 pitches.
The Orioles also likely will be down a relief pitcher for the first part of the homestand. Showalter said a reliever — he wouldn’t specify who — likely will leave the team for an illness in the family.
Unless that player is out for three days — at that point he can be placed on the bereavement list — the Orioles play one pitcher short in their bullpen.
Jimenez to rehab at Aberdeen on Tuesday
Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who remains on the 15-day disabled list with a right ankle sprain, threw a bullpen session before Sunday’s game. It was his final work day before beginning a minor league rehabilitation assignment.
Jimenez traveled back with the team following Sunday’s game in Seattle, and he is scheduled to throw 65 pitches in his first minor league rehab assignment start Tuesday for short-season Single-A Aberdeen at Ripken Stadium.
Jimenez will be reevaluated following Tuesday’s start, but he likely will need at least one more rehab start at a higher affiliate before he is activated.
Around the horn
Third baseman Manny Machado admitted that he was worried about his first game back Saturday after missing the previous four because of lower back spasms. But he said he didn’t feel his back tighten at all during Saturday’s game or after it, and he said he was able to play 100 percent without any pain. He said he will have no limitations with the back going forward. He started at third base Sunday and batted seventh. … Pitching coach Dave Wallace will leave the club Friday and Saturday to attend his daughter’s wedding. Pitching rehab coordinator Scott McGregor will serve as interim pitching coach. “Scotty knows all the players, the players know him, “ Showalter said. “It’s a real good fit for us, and it doesn’t disrupt the minor leagues that much.” … Delmon Young recorded his second multihit game of the series Saturday. He entered Sunday hitting .317/.344/.455 in 123 at-bats, including a .351/.392/.486 line in 74 at-bats against left-handers. … Outfielder Henry Urrutia, who has been on the minor league disabled list following sports hernia surgery, was activated by Triple-A Norfolk and started Sunday for the Tides. Infielder Buck Britton was transferred to Double-A Bowie to make roster room for Urrutia.