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Orioles manager Buck Showalter doesn't anticipate six-man rotation after Jeremy Hellickson debut

New Orioles Jeremy Hellickson is pictured in the dugout during game against the Royals. The Orioles acquired Hellickson in a trade with the Phillies for outfielder Hyun Soo Kim and minor leaguer Garrett Cleavinger and money last Friday.
New Orioles Jeremy Hellickson is pictured in the dugout during game against the Royals. The Orioles acquired Hellickson in a trade with the Phillies for outfielder Hyun Soo Kim and minor leaguer Garrett Cleavinger and money last Friday. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Orioles manager Buck Showalter on Tuesday said he doesn't anticipate keeping six starters in his rotation beyond Jeremy Hellickson's debut with the club on Wednesday, but didn't say much to explain how the five pitchers who he ultimately chooses will be determined.

"I try not to live in that world," Showalter said. "I have a long memory, and this time of year, you've got to have a short memory, you know? So, we're trying to pitch well enough to keep ourselves in a game and win baseball games. I don't know if there's been that much separation. Some guys are running off two or three [good ones]. If we get a couple more good starts under our belt, we might be on a little [roll]. It'd be nice to have that consistency there. ...

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"But I wouldn't differentiate that if you pitch well, it means more than if you pitch poorly. If you think the guys are going out there and saying we've got six men, if I pitch poor I'm out, what do you define as out? Out of the rotation? Nobody is going to be out of baseball or out of a job."

Hellickson will start on Wednesday in what would have been the rotation spot of right-hander Chris Tillman, who battled body cramps on Friday and allowed eight runs in 4 1/3 innings in Texas to bring his ERA to 7.65 on the season. Showalter said Monday that he expected Tillman and Kevin Gausman, who pitched a career-high 8 2/3 innings in his most recent start on July 29, would both get an extra day of rest.

Behind them would be Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jiménez. Miley rebounded from a 10-game stretch that saw him post a 9.69 ERA with five innings of two-run ball on Sunday in Texas. Jiménez pitched seven innings and allowed one run on Monday to give him two straight quality starts, though he has a 6.39 ERA since returning to the rotation in mid-June.

Gausman has allowed one run in his last three starts and seems to have turned a corner after a disappointing first half, and right-hander Dylan Bundy, who starts Tuesday, has been moved around the rotation to give him extra rest in his first full season as a starter.

There are challenges in moving some of them, like Jiménez and Tillman, to the bullpen, given how long it takes them to warm up. That doesn't mean no one will go there eventually, though.

"I'd like to get to a four-man bench." Showalter said. "I'd like to get to that. ... But there's a part of me too that likes the idea of giving these guys an extra day in August and September, quite frankly. But one advantage is gained, one advantage is lost when you do all that."

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