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The possibility of a six-man O's rotation in September

Orioles manager Buck Showalter acknowledged before last night’s game that team officials have at least discussed the idea of going to a six-man rotation in September, but the conversations haven’t gone very far.

"It's something that we have kicked around a little bit depending on what the needs of the guys are," Showalter said. "I don't think we're at that point. We'll try to let them finish off the year and when we get to September, we'll see what's best for everybody."

Going to a six-man rotation would allow Showalter to evaluate one more of the Orioles' young arms, like Zach Britton or Chris Tillman, or even the recently-acquired Rick VandenHurk, who allowed one run over eight innings for Triple-A Norfolk last night. It also could help limit the innings of rookies Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta.

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However, it also would likely be viewed unfavorably by veterans Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie, who want to pitch every five days and finish out the season strong. The Orioles also have at least one off day for five straight weeks, starting on Aug.23, making it even more difficult to add another rotation member while still allowing everyone else to get their work.

Matusz, 23, has pitched 125 2/3 innings this season after logging 157 2/3 last season in 27 combined starts for Single-A Frederick, Double-A Bowie and the Orioles. If he stays on track and essentially pitches every five days through the end of the season, he'll probably have eight or nine more starts remaining, starting with the one on Saturday at Tropicana Field.

Arrieta, 24, has pitched 139 1/3 innings this season in 24 combined appearances for Norfolk and the Orioles. He logged 150 2/3 innings all of last season, so he should be hitting that number in a couple of more starts. The Orioles may be more cautious with him since he pitched nearly 20 fewer innings that Matusz last season.

When rosters expand in September, the Orioles have the option of bringing up a starter and occasionally mixing them in the rotation, allowing one of the youngsters to skip a start pushing their start back for a couple of days.

But as of now, Showalter said, "From what I understand, everybody is in pretty good shape physically right now."

There has been some discussion in the organization about shutting Britton down early, which could affect whether he's promoted or not. Now at Norfolk, Britton has pitched 122 1/3 innings after throwing 140 last year for Single-A Frederick and 147 1/3 the previous season for Single-A Delmarva.

Showalter acknowledged that he watched some tape of Britton when he returned to the team hotel in Cleveland on Wednesday night, but he'd like to get a better look.

"All I got was him throwing about 10 pitches from the side," he said.

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