Right-hander David Hess will start Sunday, taking right-hander Alex Cobb’s spot as he recovers from a cut on his right middle finger. Cobb could attempt a light throwing session in the next few days, but his return to the rotation is unclear.
At this point, the Orioles must prepare themselves for potentially being without their two most experienced pitchers for the remaining two weeks of the season.
And even though the team’s rebuild concentrated on acquiring a surplus of promising young arms, there aren’t many options to fill the holes Showalter keeps having to plug.
Right-hander Luis Ortiz, who left his major league debut Friday early with a hamstring strain, was still visibly limping Saturday. While the team would like to give him more innings before the end of the season, its unclear when he will pitch next.
Two starters recently sent to the bullpen — Hess and right-hander Yefry Ramírez have already been promoted back to starting duty.
So who is left?
The Orioles could potentially start left-hander Sean Gilmartin, who has pitched exclusively in relief in nine appearances since the team called him up from Triple-A Norfolk. Gilmartin, 28, made three starts for the Tides, but none more than three innings and he hasn’t thrown more than 55 pitches in any outing since joining the Orioles organization in mid-July, so he’d be limited.
He did make three deeper starts in mid-May pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals’ Triple-A team, going between five and 5 2/3 innings and throwing between 70 and 87 pitches, but that was four months ago.
The Orioles have also sent right-handers Dillon Tate and John Means to Sarasota, Fla., where instructional league has started, to remain ready to be potential big league call-ups. But both pitchers have already reached career highs in innings.
Tate, the centerpiece of the Zach Britton trade with the New York Yankees, has already thrown 123 1/3 innings this season, which is 40 more innings that last season’s total. So there is concern about whether he’s reached his limit, especially for a pitcher the Orioles see as a big part of their future. Tate, 24, was 2-3 with a 5.75 ERA in seven starts at Double-A Bowie.
Means, 25, logged a career-high 157 1/3 innings this year between Bowie and Norfolk. He had never pitched more than 146 total innings. Means was 7-9 with a 3.72 ERA in 28 games (26 starts) between the two levels, including a 3.48 ERA in 20 appearances with Norfolk.
Both pitchers must be added to the 40-man roster in the offseason to protect them from the Rule 5 draft anyway.