The Orioles decided against completely shutting down rookie left-hander Josh Rogers for the season, one of several multipronged decisions not purely focused on innings totals.
Rogers, one of three pitchers acquired from the New York Yankees in the Zach Britton trade and the first pitcher acquired in the team’s bevy of deadline deals to make a major league start, is new to the organization and has made just three starts as the big league level.
After the Orioles’ 3-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday, manager Buck Showalter said that Rogers is scheduled to pitch again this season, but that it will likely be selectively out of the bullpen.
“I’m not going to say we’re going to shut him down,” Showalter said. “He’s not going to figure into the starting plans for the time being. He’s kind at where we want him to be. … If you look at last year when he threw only 90-something and had some of the elbow issues, I think we’ve taken him close to where we want to take him.
“So don’t hold me to it. I expect him to pitch again, but probably not as a starter. He may do something [extended in relief]. I don’t like the word piggy-back. … I’d really like to see him pitch an inning or two out of the bullpen to see what that looks like.”
After two good starts — including a 5 1/3-inning, two-run outing in Seattle last Monday — Rogers looked fatigued in his most recent performance, struggling with his command and throwing hittable pitches in the strike zone while lasting just 1 1/3 innings and allowing six runs in a 8-3 road loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.
Combining starts in Triple-A and the majors, Rogers’ innings count is at 151 1/3, the most in his pro career and a significant jump from his 91 2/3 innings in a 2017 season that ended prematurely because of elbow surgery.
“Regardless of what they end up being, you’re going to treat them now like they’re going to be Cy Young,” Showalter said. “You better, because you don’t know where the end game is going to be, but you’re not going to put them in harm’s way if you can,” Showalter said. “We’ve got about 23 pitchers that we have on the chart that we’re making sure — as the season went on about them potentially coming back here — to get out arms around where they are innings-wise. Actually, some people needed more innings.”
“There’s a lot of factors that figure into it,” Showalter said. “Obviously you start out with just the numbers, but you don’t let that completely [decide it]. You’re watching guys on work days. You’re getting to know a guy. You’re looking at maybe an outing in May or June as compared to what it looks like now. You can look at something as easy as the analytics or the velocity or the spin rate, all the things that tell you a guy is kind of at the end.”
Rogers, who has made 27 starts this season, including a strong 3.54 ERA in 24 Triple-A starts, can take a lot from this season.
“I was supposed to be in Trenton in Double-A,” Rogers said Sunday. “I was going to be the fifth starter in Trenton. And I just kind of got lucky. It kind of worked out. I was going to be in the bullpen in Triple-A and we had a guy go up and I made a start and did well and just kind of ran with it. I pitched well and I’ve always been a starter and always wanted to be a starter. I was fortunate enough to get that opportunity with the Yankees and to have a couple months with them and then have the opportunities here it was really exciting. If this was my last one, I’ll work hard this offseason and I’ll come into spring ready to go.”
Carroll returns after brief minors stint
Right-hander Cody Carroll, another pitcher acquired in the Britton deal, was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to add more bullpen depth.
Carroll spent most of August with the big league club before he was optioned back to Norfolk late in the month, and his 7.00 ERA over nine relief innings is a product of three rocky outings. But he has a big arm with a fastball that averaged 96.6 mph and held opposing hitters to a .161 batting average. The key is getting his slider to play better at the major league level.
Carroll said his brief time back in Norfolk — he didn’t allow a runner in his past two Triple-A outings over two innings — allowed him to get back to what made him successful.
“I think I was able to kind of get back to myself,” Carroll said. “I think I strayed away from it a little while I was here, trying to be too fine. So basically all I wanted to do was go down there and stay within myself and find what I was doing before that was working.
“Nothing too specific, just try to not overthink things out there. Everything felt great. Arm feels great, body feels good. It was more just trying to find what I was doing before and not try to over compensate one way or the other.”
Cashner maintaining as he reaches 28-start mark
Right-hander Andrew Cashner spares little when it comes to helping him get through a major league season. He had a pressure-point injection in his neck during the All-Star break that he described as a way to help his body, and goes to many other lengths to preserve his frame over a physically demanding 162-game season.
“I do a lot,” said Cashner, who turned 32 on Tuesday. “You’ve got to use whatever remedy it calls for. I have a good team of people who help take care of me and I don’t think I’d be this far in my career without those people.
“I think the biggest thing is the maintenance off the field, whether it’s stretching, whether it’s massage work, whether it’s yoga, whether its dry needling, whether it’s the chiropractor, but I have a pretty busy schedule trying to fit everybody in, but also I think it’s a test to posting.”
Cashner will make his 28th start of the year Wednesday against Oakland, which will match last year’s total with the Texas Rangers and is the most since he made 31 in 2015.
“I think this goes a long way in this game,” Cashner said. “For me, I’m the kind of guy who always tries to take the ball no matter how I feel , no matter if I’m sick, whether I don’t feel right. And I think in the game, I think you get your respect there.”
Around the horn
The Orioles activated catcher Andrew Susac from the restricted list Tuesday and also transferred outfielder/designated hitter Mark Trumbo and right-hander Pedro Araujo to the 60-day disabled list. … Reliever Richard Bleier, who is recovering from season-ending lat surgery, visited the team Tuesday.