CLEVELAND -- Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez won’t start against the Chicago White Sox in the Orioles’ upcoming series at U.S. Cellular Field, but he’ll be back in the major leagues this week and may start against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field either Saturday or Sunday.
Wei-Yin Chen will pitch on regular four days’ rest Wednesday in the series finale against the White Sox because they have struggled against left-handers, while the Chicago Cubs haven’t hit right-handers this season.
As for beleaguered starter Ubaldo Jimenez?
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said before the club’s 4-1 win over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday that he hasn’t told Jimenez whether he will remain in the rotation. But the handwriting appears to be on the wall — and with the way the starters align — it looks like Jimenez will, at the least, have his next turn skipped.
“I’m kind of decided, but I’m not going to [say],” Showalter said about Jimenez, who is 4-9 with a 4.83 ERA after allowing six runs Saturday. “We’ll see. We’ll see how the next few days go.”
Jimenez is scheduled for his regular side session Tuesday, and he would be in turn to start after Thursday’s scheduled day off. But that doesn’t seem likely.
Rookie right-hander Kevin Gausman, who allowed two hits in six innings Sunday at Cleveland, will start Friday against the Cubs, and right-hander Bud Norris, who is scheduled to start Monday against the White Sox, also likely will get a start in Wrigley Field, where he is 1-3 with a 4.11 ERA in six games.
That leaves either right-hander Chris Tillman, whom the Orioles prefer to use on regular rest, or Gonzalez as the two primary choices for the other start against the Cubs. Tillman’s day to pitch would be next Sunday, but he could be pushed back one day to start the homestand opener Aug. 25 against the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I don’t mind giving him one extra day, I don’t like giving him two,” Showalter said.
Gonzalez, who is 6-6 with a 3.80 ERA in 20 games for the Orioles this season, temporarily was sent to the minors Aug. 9 to make room for Jimenez in the rotation. Gonzalez could come back Tuesday, but he likely won’t return until later in the week. On Monday, he will throw a 75-pitch simulated game at Double-A Bowie to stay fresh.
“[That will] set him up for coming back to us and pitching out of the ‘pen, if needed, or as a starter, if needed,” said Showalter, who made it a point Sunday to call Gonzalez and explain the plan to him. “The reason why we would like for him to pitch [the simulated game] Monday is so we have an option [to start] Saturday or Sunday with him.”
The Orioles will have to make a corresponding move to add Gonzalez to the 25-man roster when he is promoted.
Showalter said the fact that the Orioles won’t need a designated hitter against the Cubs — and therefore could go with a short bench — is one factor that was under consideration when the club decided it likely wouldn’t bring up Gonzalez against the White Sox.
Another major component is that the White Sox are 14th in the majors against left-handers with a .257 average and 25th with a .307 on-base percentage. The Cubs, however, are better against left-handers (,267 average, seventh in the majors) than right-handed pitchers (.229 average, 29th in the majors).
So the Orioles will start three straight right-handers against the Cubs — and Gonzalez figures to be one of those.
Jimenez could be headed to the bullpen, but he has pitched in that role just once in his career — his major league debut in 2006.