KANSAS CITY, MO. — Orioles manager Buck Showalter enjoys having a five-man bench, but it's a luxury he realizes he might not have for long.
The Orioles have had six relievers since right-hander Chris Tillman returned from the disabled list last weekend. But with the bullpen ailing, Showalter knows the team might have to add an additional reliever soon.
In the Orioles' 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Friday, Showalter had two relievers unavailable and another who was only going to be used in a save situation. That left just three available relievers and forced left-handed long man Vidal Nuno to pitch the eighth inning of a tied game. Nuno allowed the eventual game-winning run in the eighth. Given that Alec Asher was the only other reliever to get loose, Brad Brach, Darren O'Day and Donnie Hart were apparently the relievers who were unavailable.
Showalter has said that he'd like to see another reliever emerge to help late-inning relievers Mychal Givens, O'Day and Hart. But in the two games before Saturday, he tested two relievers in the eighth with little success. Before Nuno gave up the winning hit Friday, Asher allowed a two-run homer in the eighth and gave momentum to the Washington Nationals in an eventual 7-6 Orioles loss.
"They're all capable of doing the job that needs to be done," Showalter said. "The game last night, without the wild pitch, we scored one run. It's hard to hang it on anything, but we all kind of dwell on that. I try to look at the big picture. Keep in mind, this is kind of all because Zach [Britton] is not here. That's where its all coming from, but we have some people capable of doing those jobs and will. We've got some people down below who are going to make some significant contributions when it all kind of settles out."
The five-man bench has allowed Showalter to use players later in the game for defensive upgrades and speed on the bases, but it's coming at the cost of additional relief depth.
"I have a pretty good idea of how we're probably going to end up," Showalter said. "A lot of that had to do with April with the off-days and everything. When, if, I think it's a little of both. The last couple of nights are a pretty good example of why we're going to end up at seven [relievers]."