After playing Saturday's doubleheader against the Los Angeles Dodgers -- and with both Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen starting -- the Orioles will likely need a starter to pitch in Wednesday’s afternoon game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he’s evaluating all of his options, which include bringing up a pitcher from the minor leagues to make a spot start or using someone out of the bullpen if they are rested.
“Last night, it was just a matter of, ‘OK, here’s our options. Here’s who’s not an option,’ ” Showalter said, “because I’m sure there will be some communication in the dugout during the day about, ‘This guy can go ahead and pitch, hold this guy out,’ that type of stuff. We did it all year last year. It’s more of a possibility that we’re going to need a starting pitcher on Wednesday, so we have the options lined up and there are multiple options.”
A key factor will be whether Orioles starters are able to go deep in games over the next four days, which would allow long relievers T.J. McFarland or Tommy Hunter to make a spot start. But no Orioles starter has gone seven innings through the team’s first 15 games.
Right-hander Steve Johnson, scheduled to make a rehab start on Wednesday at Triple-A Norfolk, is not an option to pitch in Baltimore because he’s only gone four innings in recovering from a strained lat muscle.
If the Orioles turn to Norfolk, left-hander Zach Britton would be the most likely choice. He would be pitching on an extra day of rest and since he’s on the 40-man roster, it would be easier to add him. The Orioles would have to option a player from the 25-man roster, but could play with a short bench.
Still, if the starting pitchers can hold their weight, McFarland or Hunter could be options. McFarland, the team’s Rule 5 draft pick, has allowed just two earned runs in 7 2/3 innings, but would be making his first big-league start. And Hunter struggled against the Blue Jays last season, pitching to a 5.30 ERA and allowing seven home runs in 18 2/3 innings.
That kind of dilemma is why Showalter wanted to avoid playing a doubleheader at all costs -- especially with the Orioles in the middle of playing 20 games in 20 days -- but once it became apparent the storms would continue well into the night Friday, it became evident the game would need to be called.
“Believe me, I come into the rain room, they have something posted every day of off days, like off days, where they’re coming, to have it all wired,” Showalter said. “I hear them and the one constant in there is about the fans. How long are you going to wait? You see in some places, they wait until 10, 11:15. It’s just not fair to the fans. When it got to about 8:40ish and they got the latest weather, I heard the guy say it was going to be another two hours before there was going to be any type of break.
“We wanted to play. You need to play those games. Doubleheaders are not good anytime, especially playing 20 days in a row.”
Back to today, here are the starting lineups for today’s Game 1: