After allowing six runs and not getting out of the third inning Wednesday night against the Boston Red Sox, right-hander Mike Wright received the news Thursday afternoon that he has been sent back to Triple-A Norfolk and will start Monday for the Tides.
To fill his big-league roster spot, the Orioles purchased the contract of 33-year-old Brian Duensing, who will be used primarily as a lefty, match-up reliever.
It’s not a surprise that the 26-year-old Wright was sent to the minors after going 2-3 with a 5.88 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) with the Orioles this year.
And, though there is reason to believe the hard-throwing Wright may be better suited as a reliever, Orioles manager Buck Showalter was adamant that Wright continues to be in the organization’s rotation plans.
“Mike’s a starter. Mike’s gonna be a good starter for the Baltimore Orioles. That’s what I feel,” Showalter said. “Today is part of the process. A lot of guys come up and they get a little better each time. And I’m hoping the next time Mike comes up, we won’t need this move to be made. He’ll contribute to our club this year as a starter, I really believe that.”
So who replaces him in the Orioles’ rotation?
The only thing Showalter would say definitively is that it won’t be Duensing, who joined Norfolk last week after opting out of his minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals’ organization last month. Duensing, who struck out six batters in three innings with Norfolk, will, in essence, take on the lefty, short-inning role vacated by Brian Matusz and, most recently, Ashur Tolliver.
Showalter also said that he would like right-handed starter Yovani Gallardo to get at least two starts in the minors while he attempts to rehab from right shoulder and biceps tendinitis. His first start was Thursday at High-A Frederick and the statistics weren’t particularly encouraging.
Gallardo, on the DL since April 23, allowed seven hits, two walks and three runs while striking out four in three innings against Potomac. The club had scheduled him to go four innings or 60 pitches and he threw 59 (43 strikes), according to milb.com. Gallardo obviously won’t be ready to fill Wright’s spot on Monday at Camden Yards versus the defending World Champion Kansas City Royals.
So that basically leaves the most logical choices as lefty T.J. McFarland, recalled Wednesday when Tolliver was demoted, and right-hander Vance Worley, who is 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA in 14 games (two starts) for the Orioles this year.
With Duensing up, the Orioles may be more inclined to start McFarland, who started three games at Norfolk (a 1.69 ERA in four games) and was the only non-closing lefty in the bullpen until Duensing was promoted. The Orioles haven’t had a lefty make a start for the big league club this season and Showalter has always envisioned McFarland as a potential rotation member.
Worley, 28, is probably the most logical option, since he has already stared for the Orioles in 2016. But he also has been valuable as a long reliever while the Orioles’ rotation has struggled some to pitch deep into games. That’s also been McFarland’s role for much of his career under Showalter, so it may come down to which one is needed more in relief between now and Monday. Regardless, it’s possible the assignment will be viewed as a “bullpen game” with several pitchers chipping in to get through nine innings.