The Orioles received encouraging news Thursday regarding right-hander Andrew Cashner, who had an MRI on his left knee that revealed no structural damage. But it’s still uncertain whether he will be able to make his next scheduled start Monday, further clouding a murky starting rotation situation over the season’s final three weeks.
The team already needs a starter for Sunday to fill in for right-hander Alex Cobb, who needs more time to recover from a nagging blister/cut on his right middle finger that forced a premature exit from Tuesday night’s start against the Oakland Athletics.
There’s also uncertainty around right-hander Dylan Bundy, who started Thursday and has struggled to the point that there has been consideration to shut him down for the season.
Cashner failed to record an out in the third inning Wednesday night, allowing eight runs in a 10-run frame in the Orioles’ 10-0 loss to the Athletics, raising questions about whether Cashner was pitching hurt. The left knee is Cashner’s landing knee, and he’s said in the past that when he had control issues, it’s mainly from being unable to get on top of his delivery.
“We’re going to take a course. I think that he’s planning on getting a cortisone shot,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “That hasn’t been finalized, but it’s good news. Structurally, he’s in good shape. He’s got some discomfort in there that we hope that we can resolve the next few days and he can make some more starts for us before the season’s over.”
When asked whether Cashner would be able to make his next start, Showalter said: “Let me see the next day or two how the cortisone manages. Obviously, he’s been pitching, and pitched real well the first two innings. The last inning — he has a little trouble getting over his front side sometimes. I think that’s probably what’s challenged him a little bit. He’s always been a good manipulator of the ball with his hand, but there’s certain things you really have to do.”
Cashner has failed to get through six innings in his past three starts, recording a 11.25 ERA over that span.
“He’s been dealing with it somewhat for a while, but he’s been able to pitch through it, pitch well with it, and sometimes not,” Showalter said. “But I think it got to the point last night where he and we wanted to make sure there wasn’t something structural, anything more than tendinitis or whatever. I think we got it, without going into detail, we’ve got an idea of what it is. At this point, nothing’s going to be surgically corrected, but we can go on without the risk of hurting it worse or whatever.”
Cobb’s cut issue re-emerged Tuesday after six days off, so the Orioles will give him at least more than that before he pitches again. Showalter said Cobb likely wouldn’t make his next start until next Friday’s series opener in New York.
“I know he won’t pitch Sunday, and I look at it maybe over-simplified,” Showalter said. “We gave him six days and he had an issue, so we know that it would be at least seven. We’ll take it further and see what goes. The difference now, I’m hoping that he’s been asked and he’s going to not throw. This is a guy who’s always tinkering with it, so take seven days and then go back. I know what I expect us to be looking at it, but understand that if it’s going to be say, the 21st, 22nd, 23rd [of September] or whatever it is, then two or three days before that, he’s got to have a workday. Do the math. It’ll be a while.”
That leaves the Orioles relying on a mostly unproven rotation for the foreseeable future. Rookie right-hander Luis Ortiz will be given his first big league start in Friday’s opener against the Chicago White Sox. Right-hander Yefry Ramírez will start Saturday. Right-hander David Hess could be plucked from the bullpen to start Saturday. Showalter said the Orioles could add another starter not currently with the team.
“I look at it as a chance to see some other people that we wouldn’t have, OK? I really do. Who those people are — I’ve got a list of six or seven candidates and [executive vice president] Dan [Duquette] and I talked about it again today, and we’ll take it day-to-day. I know who I’ve got long or short or whatever. I know I want to be able to back up Luis and Yefry on Friday and Saturday, and we’ll see where we are on Sunday. Stay tuned. It’s kind of a day-to-day thing. I know that Luis is scheduled to pitch tomorrow, and Yefry on Saturday. We’ve got an idea where Sunday might fall, but I want to see how we get through Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before I start committing to Sunday.”
Ortiz excited about first start
The 22-year-old Ortiz will become the 12th pitcher to start for the Orioles this season when he makes his first major league start Friday against the White Sox.
Ortiz’s debut came in relief against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, when he allowed five of the seven batters he faced to reach base in the seventh inning of a 14-2 loss. Ortiz allowed three runs over 2/3 inning, and just 11 of his 24 pitches were strikes.
“It was not what I expected,” Ortiz said. “It was rough, I’ll tell you that. But it’s a learning experience and all I can do is learn off it.
“What I learned is to execute pitches [better]. … It’s the biggest thing I saw. It happened so fast. It was like in the blink of an eye, it happened so fast. I really don’t remember it basically. It happened so fast. The biggest thing I think I take out of it is that I need to execute pitches.”
Ortiz expects to still have some jitters Friday, but he hopes those will go away the deeper he pitches into the game.
“The nerves are always going to be there,” Ortiz said. “It just something that just has to go away as the game goes.”
Around the horn
The Orioles entered Thursday’s series finale batting just 7-for-60 in their first two games against Oakland, and have scored just two runs. … Orioles Hall of Famer Rick Dempsey turned 69 on Thursday.