While left-hander T.J. McFarland remains the most likely option to make Tuesday’s spot start against the Texas Rangers at Camden Yards, the Orioles have yet to make that decision official.
“I haven’t been reading too much into it,” McFarland said before Sunday’s game. “I do know that however the next two games play out is possibly a factor, but we’re going to try to win games, and that’s what we’re going to try to do. I haven’t put too much thought into Tuesday, but [it’s a] ‘whatever is best’ thing.”
McFarland, who has been used primarily as a long reliever in the major leagues over the past two seasons, pitched one inning in the Orioles’ 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday, facing five batters and throwing 21 pitches.
“If he’d have thrown eight or nine pitches [Saturday] and got three outs [quickly], I would have probably let him pitch a second inning,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said before Sunday’s game. “But he’s at 20 with the potential to go 35-40, you kind of cramp him if he pitches Tuesday. Will I use him the next two days to win a game? You betcha. We’ll figure out Tuesday when we get there.”
McFarland began the season at Triple-A Norfolk as a starter and was stretched out early in the season — throwing 80 pitches as recently as May 17.
But he has been exclusively a reliever in the majors this year, throwing more than 29 pitches just twice in his 11 outings since being recalled May 23. He threw 67 pitches in a 4 2/3-inning appearance June 8 in the Orioles’ 11-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics. Overall, McFarland is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 14 games with the Orioles this season.
“It’s something we plan on doing today, looking at his max outings this year and look at how far removed he is from those,” Showalter said. “I know what he’d say, but this isn’t one of those things you ask a player about. He’s going to say, ‘Pitch me 'til I drop.’ The question is if not him, then who?”
Tillman to start Wednesday vs. Rangers
While Showalter hasn’t decided a starter for Tuesday’s game against the Rangers, he plans to start right-hander Chris Tillman on Wednesday to keep him on regular rest. Showalter said he’s leaning towards starting left-hander Wei-Yin Chen on Thursday, but he hasn’t committed to that yet.
“Talking to him, keeping him, I’m trying to keep him on schedule,” Showalter said of Tillman. “I think that will benefit him right now.”
The Orioles’ roster — and the structure of the entire pitching staff — remains in flux because of the pending resolution to third baseman Manny Machado’s suspension appeal. Whenever the Orioles lose Machado, they could make a roster move to add another infielder.
One factor that will affect the Orioles rotation for the upcoming road trip against the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Nationals will be the status of right-hander Bud Norris, whose right groin injury appears to be progressing. Norris is eligible to be activated from the 15-day disabled list Monday.
“If he makes [the DL date], we have a whole different dynamic,” Showalter said of Norris. “I don’t think we’ll be able to answer that question before he takes a work day, which will probably be the next two or three days.”
Right-hander Kevin Gausman is eligible to return to the major leagues Tuesday, but he is not a candidate for Tuesday’s start because he would be on short rest.
Around the horn
Following Sunday’s loss, the Orioles are 13-17 in day games this season and 4-10 at home. … With two hits in five at-bats Sunday, Steve Pearce is hitting .367 (11-for-30) with five doubles, three home runs and seven RBIs against the Rays this season. … Orioles first baseman Chris Davis’ sacrifice bunt in the second inning Sunday was the first of his career. … Catcher Nick Hundley recorded his first pickoff of the season on Sunday, catching Desmond Jennings off first base in the fifth inning. … Triple-A Norfolk infielder Alexi Casilla will have surgery Tuesday in Sarasota, Fla., to repair the hamate bone in his right hand. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Brian Schofield. … Orioles team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs was scheduled to evaluate Norfolk right-hander Suk-min Yoon, who remains on the DL with right shoulder impingement. … Norfolk right-hander Josh Stinson didn’t make his scheduled start Sunday with a lat strain. … Right-handers Dylan Bundy and Gausman will have a work day Monday at short-season Single-A Aberdeen. Bundy will make his next start Thursday for High-A Frederick.