Last year, the Orioles cycled through minor leaguers and trolled the waiver wire for left-handed depth, but it was a problem that didn't really go away. This year, however, the club believes its yearlong plan to rebuild its depleted stock of southpaws will bear fruit.
With left-hander Brian Matusz struggling at the major league level, there are three lefties with major league experience in the Norfolk bullpen pitching well this year. Andy Oliver struck out four in three scoreless innings of relief Thursday to lower his ERA to 1.01 with 27 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings. Zach Phillips entered Friday with a 2.95 ERA in 18 1/3 innings, and Edgar Olmos went into the weekend with 25 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings.
The Orioles avoided sending T.J. McFarland back to the minors, instead opting to immediately place right-hander Yovani Gallardo — who left Friday's game after just two innings — on the DL with right bicep tendinitis.
Orioles rookie right-hander Tyler Wilson, who has pitched well in a long-relief role this season, will make his first start of the season Saturday against the Kansas City Royals. The move will allow the club to cover itself with long relief bullpen help and still activate two pitchers coming off the disabled list -- left-handed reliever Brian Matusz on Saturday and right-hander Kevin Gausman to start Monday.
Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz, who has made just two appearances this spring because of a lingering back strain, said he planned to play catch Friday for the first time since a cortisone shot earlier this week but didn¿t know how soon he could return to games.
One of the Orioles' offseason priorities was improving the club's left-handed relief depth, especially given the prospect of fielding an all right-handed rotation. And now, less than two weeks before the regular season begins, Brian Matusz's nagging back injury has left the Orioles devoid of situational left-handed relief options, and the club is scrambling for bullpen help.
Orioles left-handed reliever Brian Matusz received a cortisone injection in his lower back following his one-inning Grapefruit League outing Sunday and might not be ready to return in time for the beginning of the regular season.
The Orioles agreed to one-year contracts for 2016 with star third baseman Manny Machado, starters Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez, and infielder Ryan Flaherty ahead of Friday¿s deadline to exchange salary-arbitration figures, according to industry sources.
The Orioles (56-54) have dropped three games behind the Angels (59-51) for the second American League wild card and remain five games behind the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East. The Orioles head to Seattle for the last leg of their three-city West Coast swing with a 3-3 record on this trip.
Keep in mind Buck Showalter once ordered an intentional walk to Barry Bonds with the bases loaded, so the decision on Sunday to walk Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to load the bases with two outs in the 11th inning shouldn't have shocked anyone. That doesn't mean I agree with it.
Wanting to make sure Sunday¿s bullpen is covered, even with lefty Brian Matusz returning from an eight-game suspension, the Orioles demoted reliever T.J. McFarland to Triple-A Norfolk and recalled right-hander Tyler Wilson.
Left-hander Brian Matusz's suspension appeal was heard Wednesday morning in a conference room at Minute Maid Park. During the one-hour hearing, Matusz appealed the eight-game ban handed down from Major League Baseball for allegedly having a "foreign substance" on his right forearm in the 12th inning of the Orioles' May 23 contest against the Miami Marlins.
HOUSTON ¿ The Orioles made a roster move before Wednesday¿s game to replenish their bullpen, recalling left-hander T.J. McFarland from Triple-A Norfolk and optioning right-hander Oliver Drake back to Norfolk.