Relief pitcher Hunter Harvey has become a critical part of the Orioles bullpen.
Relief pitcher Hunter Harvey has become a critical part of the Orioles bullpen. (Ed Zurga/Getty)

When Orioles manager Brandon Hyde called upon Ryan Eades for the final two outs of the 12th inning Saturday night, Eades hadn’t pitched in a week before giving up a walk-off grand slam in an 8-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers. But perhaps the bigger issue was that another rookie right-hander pitched the day before.

The Orioles have yet to use Hunter Harvey on back-to-back days since promoting him to the majors last month, and it’s unlikely they were going to break that trend Saturday with Friday’s appearance being his first in 11 days after a minor bout with bicep soreness. A perfect eighth inning Friday gave him 11 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings with only one run allowed in the majors, and since a mid-June move to the bullpen with Double-A Bowie, Harvey has a 2.53 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 32 innings as a reliever for the Baysox, Triple-A Norfolk and the Orioles.

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But only once has he pitched on consecutive days, coming in his final two Triple-A outings before his promotion.

Given Harvey’s injury history — his 82 innings between the minors and majors are his most since his first full professional season in 2014 — the Orioles are being understandably cautious with their 2013 first-round pick, especially given that an expanded roster leaves 14 other pitches in their bullpen. And although the 24-year-old understands it, too, that doesn’t mean Harvey still doesn’t get an itch on the days the Orioles don’t intend to use him.

“Oh, it stinks,” Harvey said before Saturday’s game. “I want to be out there every day, but obviously, I just can’t, especially with all the guys that we’ve got. Everybody’s got to get in and pitch and get their work in.

“It’s tough.”

Not only on Harvey, but also on Hyde.

He likely would’ve used Harvey before Saturday’s 12th inning had he been available, but that could’ve meant any of the group of right-handers Hyde actually used that included Miguel Castro, Shawn Armstrong and Branden Kline might’ve still been sitting in Comerica Park’s visitors bullpen when he needed a righty with the bases loaded and one out.

Hyde has been on the verge of giddy after many of Harvey’s outings, gushing over the high velocity, the poise and occasionally the hair. That enthusiasm came through again before Saturday’s game, when asked how managing a bullpen changes on the days Harvey is available.

“I love it,” Hyde said. “I love when Harvey’s up.

“Anytime he’s available, that’s a positive.”

Another starter coming?

The Orioles have used 16 starters this season, and Hyde hinted Sunday at the possibility of the 17th.

This year’s team is tied with the 1955 Orioles for the second-most starters in franchise history and trails only the 1956 club, which used 19 pitchers to open a game. Nine of the starters Baltimore has used this year are either not on the active roster or no longer in the organization.

Hyde said Sunday that the starter for Tuesday’s series opener with the Toronto Blue Jays “might be somebody from our bullpen.” Although that could be Ty Blach or David Hess, who both have started for the Orioles this year with limited effectiveness, it’s also possible the Orioles want to get an extended look at Chandler Shepherd.

Shepherd, a former Boston Red Sox farmhand who the Orioles claimed from the Chicago Cubs in May, has been effective in two relief outings for Baltimore, allowing three runs in seven innings. He was the International League Player of the Month in August, pitching five quality starts for Triple-A Norfolk with a 1.62 ERA in 33 1/3 innings. August also featured his major league debut of one run in four innings against the New York Yankees.

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