Bergesen as tonight's starter is easiest of Orioles' decisions today
When I left the home clubhouse at Camden Yards a little before 1 a.m. this morning following the Orioles 4-1 loss in 15 innings to the New York Yankees, President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail, manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Mark Connor were meeting in the manager’s office. I wasn’t allowed in, but I didn’t have to be to know the topic of discussion.
The Orioles top decision makers will have their hands full today, trying to figure out who – if anybody – is available in the bullpen, who will start tonight’s game after Jeremy Guthrie pitched an inning in relief following Michael Gonzalez’s ejection, and what to do with a bench that was down to just two guys when last night’s game started.
ROTATION: The easiest decision will be naming Brad Bergesen tonight’s starter, which is little more than a formality at this point. Because of Tuesday’s rainout in Boston, which pushed Zach Britton’s start back to last night, Bergesen would be on normal four days rest. Guthrie said last night that he’d be fine to start tonight, but Showalter and Connor are not going to take any chances with a guy who has anchored the staff the past two seasons with 200-inning campaigns. Bergesen was originally scheduled to start Friday’s series opener against the Washington Nationals, but the Orioles have other options for that game, including Guthrie and Jake Arrieta, Saturday’s scheduled starter who would still be on normal four days rest if he pitches Friday night. And if needed, Alfredo Simon is expected to join the club and be available to pitch Sunday. He’s ticketed for a long relief role, but he’s obviously stretched out enough to start if needed.
BULLPEN: Jeremy Accardo, who threw two-plus innings and 55 pitches, will probably be unavailable until at least Saturday. I’d assume that Showalter will also try to stay off Jim Johnson, who threw two innings and 28 pitches last night. Koji Uehara pitched only one inning, but asking the veteran right-hander to pitch on back-to-back days is often a risky proposition. The rest of the seven-man group – Clay Rapada, Jason Berken, Kevin Gregg and Gonzalez – are probably available tonight. Showalter said after the game that the club will “probably” add another bullpen arm in time for tonight. Triple-A Norfolk left-hander Troy Patton is the most logical choice being that he’s been with the team for the past couple of days as a potential roster replacement if first baseman Derrek Lee goes to the disabled list. The club was hoping to give Lee a couple of more days to see how much he’d improve and possibly avoid a DL stint. However, they may not have that luxury anymore with how much the bullpen was taxed last night. It wouldn’t shock me if the Orioles added two fresh arms for the game.
BENCH: When last night’s game started, the Orioles bench consisted of backup catcher Jake Fox and infielder Brandon Snyder. The Orioles lost last night’s game because they went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 15 baserunners, making Bartolo Colon look like Justin Verlander and Hector Noesi look like Mariano Rivera (notwithstanding his last two appearances at Camden Yards). However, it has to be very hard to win an extra-inning game against the Yankees no less with a two-man bench. Showalter said last night that he had no updates on second baseman Brian Roberts, who saw team doctors yesterday to try to determine the cause of recurring headaches the past couple of days. I’d be surprised if he was in the team’s lineup tonight, though that’s speculation on my part because Roberts didn’t speak to the media before last night’s game. I talked about Lee above. The Orioles may have to make a decision today on both because they can’t afford to keep playing two men short. I was asked yesterday what would have happened if one of the infielders got hurt last night, and I didn’t have an answer. My best guess would have been Nick Markakis coming in to play first base with Luke Scott shifting to left field and Felix Pie going to right. Luckily for the O’s, it never came to that. But I can’t imagine that Showalter, who frequently goes over all the ‘What Ifs?,’ will take that chance for too much longer. One potential scenario is the Orioles calling up another infielder – Ryan Adams?, Brendan Harris?, Nick Green?, Josh Bell? – just as insurance for a couple of days until Roberts is ready to return. That infielder could then be demoted back to Triple-A to make room for Simon on Sunday, assuming Roberts is ready to play by then.