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August 13, 2010

The possibility of a six-man O's rotation in September

Orioles manager Buck Showalter acknowledged before last night’s game that team officials have at least discussed the idea of going to a six-man rotation in September, but the conversations haven’t gone very far.

“It’s something that we have kicked around a little bit depending on what the needs of the guys are,” Showalter said. “I don’t think we’re at that point. We’ll try to let them finish off the year and when we get to September, we’ll see what’s best for everybody.”

Going to a six-man rotation would allow Showalter to evaluate one more of the Orioles’ young arms, like Zach Britton or Chris Tillman, or even the recently-acquired Rick VandenHurk, who allowed one run over eight innings for Triple-A Norfolk last night. It also could help limit the innings of rookies Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta.

However, it also would likely be viewed unfavorably by veterans Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie, who want to pitch every five days and finish out the season strong. The Orioles also have at least one off day for five straight weeks, starting on Aug.23, making it even more difficult to add another rotation member while still allowing everyone else to get their work.

Matusz, 23, has pitched 125 2/3 innings this season after logging 157 2/3 last season in 27 combined starts for Single-A Frederick, Double-A Bowie and the Orioles. If he stays on track and essentially pitches every five days through the end of the season, he’ll probably have eight or nine more starts remaining, starting with the one on Saturday at Tropicana Field.

Arrieta, 24, has pitched 139 1/3 innings this season in 24 combined appearances for Norfolk and the Orioles. He logged 150 2/3 innings all of last season, so he should be hitting that number in a couple of more starts. The Orioles may be more cautious with him since he pitched nearly 20 fewer innings that Matusz last season.

When rosters expand in September, the Orioles have the option of bringing up a starter and occasionally mixing them in the rotation, allowing one of the youngsters to skip a start pushing their start back for a couple of days.

But as of now, Showalter said, “From what I understand, everybody is in pretty good shape physically right now.”

There has been some discussion in the organization about shutting Britton down early, which could affect whether he’s promoted or not. Now at Norfolk, Britton has pitched 122 1/3 innings after throwing 140 last year for Single-A Frederick and 147 1/3 the previous season for Single-A Delmarva.

Showalter acknowledged that he watched some tape of Britton when he returned to the team hotel in Cleveland on Wednesday night, but he’d like to get a better look.

“All I got was him throwing about 10 pitches from the side,” he said.

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Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 6:32 AM | | Comments (15)


It's a quandary, but a kind of nice one. We don't have one starter who clearly can't do the job. You may have an un-favorite, but none of them have gone months without a decent start, like Brian Bannister, Ryan Rowland, Charlie Morton, or a few others. So instead of wondering who can replace a hopeless-looking starter, we're wondering which five out of seven or eight will give us the strongest group. And just a month ago . . .

just 4 even three -need to see more pitchers and what is available for next season -clii ff lee sees rhe orioles winning he may come here --liv.hernades -ted ;lilly there may be more if they see the orioles win and on their way up the standings .

No offense, but who really cares what Millwood and/or Guthrie "prefer." Neither player will factor in to the O's resurgence. The last month of a last place season is about putting yourself in the best possible position for the next season and beyond.

What do Jim Palmer and Ray Miller think about these various pitch-count and total innings pitched limitations? If conditioning and training is the best in history, why are pitchers throwing less and less all the time?

I look at the records of pitchers up through the 70's and can't help wondering why this generation is so coddled...

I don't see any reason why we should stretch the innings load of any of our younger guys for some extra evaluation period. Have we not been evaluating their play all year?

This is a lost year- let's play it conservatively with the younger arms and stick with a 5 man rotation. Millwood, Guthrie, Bergeson, and maybe 2 older arms that might have starter potential (Hernandez, Hendrickson, etc.). If nothing else, it may increase the value of some of our trade chips this offseason.

I would like to see Britton in september but his innings may not encourage that too much to add him just for one or two appearances.. Buck could use a good look at Tillman and VandenHurk.. VandenHurk certainly appears worth a look or two. They may shut Arrietta down too which is just being cautious I think but Buck has seen him enough to consider by then.. I respect them being careful when there is nothing at stake and they may want one or more to go to instructional league to work on something.. I would love to see an interview with wieters pie and bell to see if they plan to do anything different this winter to be stronger next year.. Such a question would say alot about their desire to improve..

Millwood has pitched well in his last couple starts. Maybe we can trade him before Sep 1st. That would give the young arms more opportunities to prove themselves to Buck.
I really like the way Buck has handled the pitching staff, finally letting them pitch more than 5 or 6 innings.
Go O's!

I already put this link in a comment on the MASN website, but I hope you'll link to it in an entry here, so that people won't need to stumble across it in a random comment. Naming the O's opening-day lineups, 1991-2010; there's no better way to waste 15 minutes at work. Thanks.

A few things.

Paul, I disagree I don’t think Millwood has pitched all that well.
He’s not a #1 pitcher, never was, solid #2 or #3 all the way.
As for trading him, maybe. Do you think anyone would want him?

I would love to see the Orioles to make an attempt to get Cliff Lee in the offseason.
In addition to being a true #1 pitcher, he would make an excellent mentor to Bergesen.


Do you think the Orioles will have any trades before the August 31st Trade/Waiver Deadline? Wiggington to the Braves perhaps?

Also, I have been reading here and there, is there any truth to Mike Gonzalez rumors going around? I can’t believe no one has asked directly on here. Or at least I haven’t seen anything.

Lastly, it was good to see Josh Bell making strides, let’s see if he can keep it up!



Jeff Z's reply: Got nothing specific on waivers Dan. Heard some speculation, but that waiver stuff is supposed to remain confidential and I haven't been able to get it confirmed through Oriole sources. For the O's to trade Wiggy to Braves, that would mean he would have had to get past every A.L. team because they have first shot on him. Don't see that happening. Also, I see no way a team would claim Gonzalez with about $7.5 million left on his deal. I would be surprised if the O's traded him simply because I'm sure another team would want them to eat a big part of the contract and not give up much.


A different subject to touch on. I haven't seen anything concerning waivers this month. I am assuming that the O's put players on the list and pulled them back because they were claimed by another team. Do you know if that happened and who the palyers were?

Jeff Z's reply: I suspect that the Orioles would pretty much put every player on their roster through waivers. Nothing speciific. That's stuff supposed to stay confidential though some of it leaks out.

dumb idea and not realistic MLB conditions. I would just release millwoood and shut down matusz or maybe arrietta.

or let some guys pitch out of the bullpen for ML experience.

i'd like to see the orioles train all starting pitchers from day one of spring training next yr to start every 4th day and relief pitchers to get used to pitch 2-3-4 innings at a time. the 4 man rotation with 3 days rest between starts worked really well for decades and decades. with the lack of quality pitching it makes sense to go to a 4 man rotation.

double b,

Why would you release a guy who currently has Type B FA status and has been putting together better starts his last couple of times out?

The sandwich round pick you get for Millwood would be of higher value than the 2nd rounder you'd give up to sign a Type A FA.

No offense, but who really cares what Millwood and/or Guthrie "prefer."

My thoughts exactly. If they wanted to finish out on a 5 man rotation, they should have pitched better earlier in the year, so this team could have something other than the future to look forward to.

What "are" you guys smoking? Guts has been as good, or better than "any" of our young guns. If you all think we can go charging into next year with a starting 5 of 22-23 year olds, you're really losing it.. Don't forget, this was all supposed to "start" smoothly this year, not wait until the 2/3 season mark. We're looking well, but have far to go. For my money they make darn sure Guts is wearing an O's cap in the spring. Sorry, don't know his contract status.

Go O's!
The Buck stopped here.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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