This is definitely a surprise – Hunter Harvey being recalled from Double A Bowie before his first start because the Orioles needed bullpen help.
Then again, knowing the way the Orioles and manager Buck Showalter work, it’s not really that surprising when you think about it.
Let’s start with the basics.
The Orioles overtaxed their bullpen this weekend in New York with two extra-inning games, including Sunday’s in which the relievers were asked to log 11 1/3 innings after starter Mike Wright could only record two outs.
Showalter makes it a point not to abuse his relievers; of all his traits as a manager, perhaps Showalter’s best is how he handles his bullpen, making sure guys are fresh and not in a position to be overused and, ultimately, stay healthy.
So, we all had to expect that the Orioles would bring a fresh arm up for the first game of their series tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays.
And you had to figure that lefty Tanner Scott would be sent out after throwing 1 2/3 innings in New York on Sunday, since the rookie isn’t accustomed to throwing back-to-back days (he mainly pitched three-inning stints in the minors last year as a way to build arm strength and use more pitches in case he is converted from his typical, short-reliever role.)
But adding Harvey, the 23-year-old who hasn’t pitched above Low-A Delmarva?
Adding Harvey, the kid who has missed most of the last three seasons due to injury and had July 2016 elbow surgery?
Adding Harvey, who is supposed to be the club’s ace of the future now, in April 2018?
Yep, because the Orioles do things differently and Harvey, the son of former big league closer Bryan Harvey, is different than most young pitchers.
“This is a very good major league pitcher’s son. He’s been around locker rooms. He’s got the right amount of nervousness today. I don’t want to say refreshing, but we all kind of play (it through) some of the young guy’s eyes and what they’re thinking,” Showalter said. “I love watching him move around today and seeing what’s going on with him, knowing full well he might not get in the game. I hope he doesn’t. I hope we don’t have that need. But you can’t go into today’s game without solving that.”
That’s the whole key here. Harvey is not in Baltimore to take over the world. He is here because it is his day to pitch and he can go a couple innings if needed. And if he’s not needed, he’ll go right back to the minors and begin his 2018 — once the Orioles’ bullpen gets straightened out.
That could be Tuesday.
Showalter wouldn’t call it a temporary promotion, but …
“If I do (think it is temporary), I’m not going to broadcast it to the guy who is coming up,” Showalter said. “You guys can probably (figure it out). We’re trying to protect the health of all our people, including Hunter.”
The Orioles have lefty Nestor Cortes to directly back up Bundy on Monday, but then the bullpen thins out, especially among right-handers. Showalter suggested that five relievers may be unavailable Monday.
The Orioles didn’t want to bring up a non-roster player without options remaining – a Jhan Marinez or Josh Edgin – and then expose him to waivers in a day or two.
David Hess and Yefry Ramirez, both on the 40-man roster, weren’t available after already pitching this weekend.
So, it’s Harvey, the hope for the future.
And the Plan C for the next day or two.
Cobb to pitch Saturday for the Orioles; Trumbo nearing a return
Also of note today is that Showalter announced right-hander Alex Cobb will most likely make his Orioles debut Saturday against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
He threw six innings in an extended spring game Monday, throwing 93 pitches, allowing one run and striking out eight. He’ll take a workday in Bowie on Wednesday and join the big league club after that.
Designated hitter Mark Trumbo (quad) also should be returning to the club this weekend. He is expected to play Tuesday and Wednesday at Bowie and could stay with the Baysox for the weekend in Harrisburg, Pa., join High-A Frederick at home or the Orioles in Boston, depending how he feels.
The Orioles will have two roster moves to make when Cobb and Trumbo are activated.