Orioles right-hander Tyler Wilson was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday morning, with manager Buck Showalter using the team's upcoming schedule to give the struggling young pitcher a breather and adding Cuban left-hander Ariel Miranda to a battered bullpen in the process.
"Tyler's pitched real well for us," Showalter said. "He's obviously had some struggles, but this is more about the bullpen, too. We need to keep it rested. We've had a bunch of short starts here lately, and we're not going to put our guys in harms way. As [pitching coach Dave Wallace] says, the team with the freshest horses and the healthiest arms ends up winning. That's what we're trying to do."
Wilson allowed eight runs on nine hits, including three home runs, in three-plus innings Saturday to see his ERA jump to 5.22 on the season. It's risen over a full run since he pitched a gem on June 16 in Boston, and Showalter indicated after Saturday's game that Wilson looked to be tiring a bit.
"We're going to let him take some time off," Showalter said. "He's thrown over 100 innings counting spring training. A lot of people throw out spring training. He's been pitching since late January, early February. We just want to freshen him up, crispen him up some. We've talked to him about targeting how much time off before he pitches again. I think we'll get a good return. He's pitched some really good games for us this year, as you well know. It's a little lull here, like a lot of young pitchers do at this level. I think people forget the stress of major league innings compared to minor league innings.
"He's not the type of guy who's going to hold up to 20-plus pitches an inning, but he's capable. He's the same guy who pitched really well against Boston at Fenway Park. I just think he's going to hit a little lull here. … He just needs to get his crispness back. He will. He'll get back. He'll help us. It's got as much to do with the bullpen and trying to protect [Dylan] Bundy."
Miranda, who signed as an international free agent in May 2015, was scheduled to start Sunday for Triple-A Norfolk, but instead got a call at 2 a.m. back in Norfolk informing him that he'd been called up to the majors.
Miranda has struck out 18 in 19 scoreless innings over his last three starts, lowering his ERA for the Tides to 4.06. Showalter said he's used his fastball-split/change combination down in the strike zone to get hitters out there, though he noted there's a big chasm between Triple-A and the majors.
Left-hander Brian Duensing, who had surgery to remove cartilage chips in his elbow last Friday, went to the 60-day disabled list to create a 40-man roster spot for Miranda.
"I feel so happy right now that I'm here, and I thank the Orioles for giving me the opportunity to play professional baseball," Miranda said, via coach Einar Diaz, who served as a translator. "Now I'm here, and I'm going to do whatever I can to help the team, whatever they need in me to help the team win."
The Orioles will have the back-end of their bullpen — Brad Brach and Zach Britton— fresh behind Ubaldo Jimenez Sunday, but the question of length means Miranda was necessary.
Vance Worley pitched 2 2/3 innings Saturday, Chaz Roe is unavailable after pitching back-to-back days, and Showalter's mention of Bundy, who threw 36 pitches in 2 2/3 innings Thursday, indicates he may be held out as well.
Going forward, the team is waiting to decide whether to add a position player or pitcher in the roster spot that will be created when designated hitter Pedro Alvarez goes on the bereavement list for three days following the game due to a death in his family. Showalter indicated that person would already be on the 40-man roster.
"We've got some people moving towards Los Angeles," he said. "We're waiting to see if we're going to need a pitcher tomorrow or a position player. It depends on what happens in the game."