Just when we thought we had an idea of what the Orioles were going to do concerning their pending pitching moves, a couple curveballs were thrown into the mix.
The big one Friday night was a Gregg Olson-quality Uncle Charlie.
Starter Yovani Gallardo is dealing with shoulder discomfort after pitching just two innings Friday night in a loss to the Kansas City Royals. He’ll be sent back to Baltimore to see the team orthopedist. It doesn’t sound promising.
Gallardo told reporters after the game that his shoulder didn’t feel right — it was as if he had no real strength in it while trying to pitch. It was something he said he has never felt before.
Given that the Orioles restructured his contract from three years to two this offseason after there were concerns raised about his shoulder during his physical examination, this is certainly a disconcerting development for the Orioles and Gallardo.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter told MASN announcer Gary Thorne postgame Friday that lefty reliever Brian Matusz would be activated before Saturday’s game and the corresponding move could involve Gallardo, depending on what is discovered during Saturday’s examination.
If the Orioles need more time to make a decision on Gallardo, one sensible move would be to send T.J. McFarland to Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday, since McFarland has a minor-league option remaining, threw five scoreless innings in replacement of Gallardo on Friday and wouldn’t be available to pitch for a few days anyway.
If Gallardo then has to go on the disabled list, McFarland could be brought back to the big leagues before the required 10 days are up because he’d be replacing someone who has been placed on the DL.
That scenario, though, still doesn’t clear up what the Orioles will do when Kevin Gausman is activated Monday to start against the Tampa Bay Rays – something Showalter confirmed to reporters Friday.
McFarland could just stay in the minors, and Gausman could be activated Monday if Gallardo is DL’d. But if Showalter wants McFarland back – and Showalter loves having a lefty long reliever to back up his right-handed rotation in case something like Friday’s situation occurs – then it’s possible either Mike Wright, who starts Sunday, or Tyler Wilson, who starts Saturday, could get sent back to Triple-A Norfolk.
If that occurs, then Vance Worley, who was originally expected to start Saturday in Kansas City, could go back into the rotation next week. Worley, who pitched a perfect inning of relief Friday and has looked solid in his brief time with the club, also could be taken off the 25-man roster. But he can’t be sent to the minors without clearing waivers and, therefore, could be lost to another organization, something the Orioles prefer to avoid.
The team could keep Gausman, Wilson, Wright, Worley and McFarland on the roster if it puts Gallardo on the DL and sends down short reliever Mychal Givens, who also has minor league options remaining.
So there are more decisions to be made in the next few days.
Unfortunately, one pitching spot may have opened due to an injury to Gallardo, who was signed to a two-year $22 million in order to help stabilize the rotation. The 30-year-old Gallardo, after all, has made 30 starts and pitched 180 or more innings in seven straight seasons.
The Orioles felt coming into this season that they had eight or nine pitchers that could start in the majors. Now it looks like eight of those may be used in the first month of the year.