It's Sunday, and you know what that means, it's time for the latest edition of Orioles101 mailbag and this week the Baltimore Orioles starting rotation remained the focus, but we received several injury related questions as well.
As we always do, we want to remind you that if we receive multiple questions on the same topic, we answer them with one general answer as opposed to answering each one and repeating ourselves.
How long can the Orioles go with a six-man rotation?
There is probably not an Orioles related or focused website or writer that is not receiving this question with regularity and it has been no different here at Orioles101. One thing is for certain, Kevin Gausman has easily pitched well enough to stay in the rotation, but the issue is that he is the easiest solution in that he has options remaining. Believe it or not, we saw the Orioles optioning him between the weekend and Friday because the Birds have a double header on Friday and MLB permits a team to call a player up as the 26th man when a team has a double header. By optioning Gausman before then, it allows the Orioles to add another bullpen arm as they were going with just six relievers.
The bigger issue with the six-man rotation is the fact that the O's have been going with six relievers, and it will only take one bad outing from a starter to tax the bullpen and need another arm. One thing benefiting the Birds is that if a starter does have a terrible outing, T.J. McFarland could give them the innings they need and then the team could option him down to bring up someone else, but once they do that, without an injury, McFarland would have to remain in the minors for ten days before being recalled. Some sort of move will eventually have to be made, whether it is deciding to go with a short bench in order to add a seventh reliever, or demoting one of the starters to the bullpen.
Is there a currently injured player that could help the Orioles in the stretch run?
This is an interesting question in that there are some players currently on rehab assignments that the Orioles will eventually have to make a decision on. The first of which is the all to often injured Nolan Reimold. He has played seven games (entering Friday) with the AA Bowie Baysox and is hitting .273 with one double and two RBI in 22 at bats. Reimold has also drawn five walks to have an OBP of .393. With Reimold, the issue is of course, whether or not he can remain healthy and the Orioles will almost certainly use the entire allowable rehab time before making a decision with him.
The Orioles bench could use a left handed bat, and the only real option there other than catcher Steve Clevenger, would be Henry Urrutia, but Hamerin Hank is currently sidelined after having sports hernia surgery in early May. Recovery time is six to eight weeks, so he could return in the latter part of July, so it is plausible that Urrutia could be an option for the Orioles some time in August if he is performing well in Norfolk.
How long until the Orioles have to recall Steve Clevenger?
This is something that we here at Orioles101 are still trying to figure out to a point because we were surprised that he was optioned at all considering he was easily the best offensive option at catcher among he, Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley, but the Orioles and manager Buck Showalter always preach defense, and Clevenger is likely the least effective defensive catcher of the group.
Clevenger is certainly doing everything he can right now in Norfolk to justify a call up as he is hitting (entering Friday) .391 with 15 RBI, eight doubles and owns a .429 on base percentage in 18 games with the Tides. Baltimore's current catchers have been abysmal at the plate and have basically been a black hole in the lineup, much like the pitcher is in the National League. If the Birds struggling bats, such as JJ Hardy, Chris Davis and Manny Machado cannot get going, it is hard to fathom the O's can continue to leave Clevenger in Norfolk, when his bat could be a boost the Orioles lineup.
As always, we thank everyone for their questions throughout the week, and we continue to urge you to send us questions every week as Orioles101 Mailbag is here to stay as a weekly edition.
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