Orioles manager Buck Showalter sticking with six starting pitchers, for now

NEW YORK — Thursday’s day off allowed the Orioles to rest their six-man bullpen, but it didn’t exactly clear up questions surrounding the pitching staff.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter hasn’t announced his starting pitchers after this Yankees series — Bud Norris is scheduled for Saturday afternoon and Chris Tillman for the series finale Sunday — but it appears Showalter will continue to go with a six-man rotation, even though he’s been unwilling to call it that.

On Friday afternoon, Miguel Gonzalez and Tillman each threw side sessions, but left-hander Wei-Yin Chen didn’t, making him available to pitch in long relief Friday night. Showalter is going to continue to have a starter ready in the bullpen each night in case of an emergency, so he doesn’t further tax his stable of six relievers.

“We are not going to put the bullpen in harm’s way, so far we haven’t had to do that,” Showalter said.

Chen is expected to pitch Monday against the Chicago White Sox at Camden Yards with Gonzalez potentially going Tuesday and Kevin Gausman starting Wednesday. That would then set up Ubaldo Jimenez and Norris to pitch next Friday’s split doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays after Thursday’s day off.

It appears the club will continue to use the six-man rotation through next week, but a stumble by one of the starters in this series could shuffle the deck.

At some point, the Orioles might have to call up a seventh reliever or put one starter — at least temporarily — into the bullpen. Showalter said he has been in contact with Triple-A Norfolk manager Ron Johnson, as usual, and has contingency plans if a reliever is needed.

“If our starters went six, seven, eight innings every night, I know what we are going to do. But I’ve got to leave the wiggle room to not do that,” Showalter said. “Do I think we are going to stick with six the rest of the season? I hope so. That would mean our starters are pitching real well. But I think you and I both know that’s going to be a challenge.”

Around the horn

Showalter said he spoke Thursday to catcher Matt Wieters, who had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Tuesday and is lost for the season. Wieters’ right arm is in an immobilizer, Showalter said, but he has begun some light exercises in Atlanta. He might visit with the team during their homestand in mid-July. … Showalter said he wanted to get Nick Hundley a start at catcher after Caleb Joseph started three in a row against Tampa Bay. Showalter said he wanted Joseph to catch Gausman in Wednesday’s day game because of their familiarity. Otherwise, Hundley might have started that one. … Chris Davis' grand slam on Wednesday was his 100th home run as an Oriole. He is the 23rd player to achieve that milestone in modern franchise history. ... Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar (left knee) played his first rehab game with the Gulf Coast League Orioles on Friday, going hitless in three at-bats with two strikeouts. He had two errors at third base against the GCL Rays.



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