MILWAUKEE — Rookie left-hander Jayson Aquino put himself into consideration for more starting opportunities with what manager Buck Showalter thought was mostly a faultless performance in the Orioles' 4-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night.
"He has for a while," Showalter said. "If you look at things just purely statistically, it's really not very close compared to him and the other guys. We've been looking for a spot. He doesn't have the track record that some other guys do, as far as up here, but he presented himself well. I was proud of him. That's what I was thinking I was going to see. Always had a little something in the back of my mind. Always liked the approach he has."
Showalter became intrigued with Aquino in spring training after not getting a good impression of what he might offer during some relief looks last year. Wednesday's 5 1/3 innings of five-hit ball with three earned runs allowed marked his second major league start, with his first a win over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on April 21 during which he allowed two runs in six innings.
He's struggled out of the bullpen in a limited chance this year, but Showalter sees him more as a starting candidate, which is why he's avoided the bullpen shuttle as so few others have.
"He's not scared," Showalter said. "This is a guy who comes up and attacks people. His repertoire and his approach really don't play out of the 'pen. It's kind of like, guys have got to see him. Guys up here see so many right-handed lineups, left-handed pitchers do, so the changeup [plays]. And the player development group has done a great job with his slider. [Pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] started working on it in spring, and that's given him another look that he didn't have. Anytime you can make some good left-handed hitters look uncomfortable with the slider, that was something he didn't have."
Overall, Aquino wasn't helped much by his defense. Showalter acknowledged that. The first hit Aquino allowed was a bloop double to left field that is a hit just 2 percent of the time, according to Statcast. That runner, Travis Shaw, scored after an error by third baseman Manny Machado. Milwaukee's second run scored when left fielder Ryan Braun doubled and a ground ball went under shortstop Rubén Tejada's glove.
The other two, which Showalter was happy to ascribe to Aquino, came on a two-run home run by Keon Broxton when he left a breaking ball over the plate in the Brewers' three-run fourth inning.
Aquino, who had a 4.46 ERA for Triple-A Norfolk and now has a 7.43 ERA in the majors (3.97 as a starter), said he's always waiting for another opportunity. This one came because right-hander Chris Tillman was on the paternity list, but most of the Orioles rotation is struggling to find its form and Aquino presented himself as an option to possibly replace one.
He might quickly return to Triple-A for the time being, considering that the Orioles can add another player in his spot before Tillman returns from paternity leave this weekend, but there's reason for him to hope for a swift recall.
"I'm always waiting for my opportunity, hoping there is another opportunity, and I try to take advantage of the opportunity," Aquino said through team interpreter Ramón Alarcón. "I just need to be myself, continue to work on my pitches, keeping the ball down in the zone and just concentrating on doing my job. Whatever the team decides to do, that's really up to the team."