ARLINGTON, Texas—After the Orioles traded Kevin Gausman, they were left with an opening in their starting rotation. They hoped David Hess would be able to fill it.
Hess’ performance on Friday did not present compelling evidence in his behalf.
His time with the Orioles began with so much promise, but his awful fourth inning, which left his team trailing 8-0, was upsetting.
Hess committed two errors on one play that led to a first-inning run, then allowed back-to-back home runs in the fourth in the 11-3 loss to the Texas Rangers.
In four of his first five starts, Hess pitched well, but he’s allowed at least five earned runs in his last five starts as his ERA has ballooned to 6.41.
He’s likely to get more starts, manager Buck Showalter implied.
“In the situation we’re in, we’re going to give some young people an opportunity,” Showalter said. “They show us the good, and they show us the not-so-good. Let them work through it. It’s not always going to be a bed of roses for them. They’ve got to learn from their mistakes and give them a chance to not repeat them and to learn from them. David’s had a taste of the good and taste of the bad, and we’ll see how he responds.”
Hess knows he’s going to have to make changes.
“They’re starting to make adjustments,” Hess said. “More than anything that just means the execution of everything has to be a little bit better. Kind of pay close attention to what they are doing and how they are approaching me. So, going forward, we’re going to look at that a little bit and make adjustments. We’ll find a way to make it work.”
Catcher Caleb Joseph realizes that after the Orioles’ makeover, the team has lots of challenges but says the games are still important.
“There is something to play for,” Joseph said. “There are a lot of younger players that are auditioning for next year and even some of us older players. We’re auditioning for next year. Each game really matters.
“Opportunities are really thin in the big leagues, and it’s really important for each and every guy to come out there and do their best.”
Joseph now has the third-most seniority on the team, behind only Adam Jones and Chris Davis.
“If I’m a pitcher, I’m scratching and clawing to get out there and throw up zeroes,” Joseph said.
“There are openings all over the place on this staff. You have to seize the moment and take advantage of the opportunities at hand. It’s not going to be there over and over and over. They are looking for guys that can outs now and some of these guys need to take advantage of their opportunity and not let it pass them by.”
Bundy without Gausman
Ever since Kevin Gausman was drafted fourth in 2012, a year after Dylan Bundy was the fourth overall selection, the two have been grouped together.
It took until 2016 for Bundy and Gausman to become Oriole teammates. This year, they were the two most effective starters until Tuesday, when Gausman was traded to Atlanta.
“Is it strange? Yeah, it’s definitely different,” Bundy said. “You miss being able to say ‘hi’ to the guys you usually say ‘hi’ to every single day for so long and then all of a sudden, they’re gone.
“He’s just a phone call away, so it ain’t too big of a deal. Not being in here and not being able to watch him pitch is going to be different. You’ve got to move on, I guess.”
In the final days before the trade deadline, Gausman’s name was mentioned. So was Jonathan Schoop’s—and Bundy’s.
“You’ve always got the chance to go,” Bundy said. “Everybody’s got the chance to go. I think everybody’s name probably was [brought up]. You try not to let it bother you. Just go out there and do your job every five days.”
At 25, Bundy has the longest tenure of any Oriole starter.
“I don’t feel like that,” Bundy said. “All the guys I played with and were on the team for so long are gone now. It is a little different feeling. Take it in stride, I guess.”
Evan Phillips, who was acquired by the Orioles in the Gausman trade, had an impressive debut, pitching two perfect innings, striking out three.
Phillips, who was born in Salisbury, became the 25th native Marylander to play for the Orioles.
Earlier this season, Ryan Meisinger was the 24th.
Phillips spent his first two years in Ocean City before his family moved to North Carolina. That didn’t stop him from becoming an Orioles fan.
“Growing up, Cal Ripken Jr. [was my] favorite baseball player of all time,” Phillips said. “I wore No. 8 as long as I could before single-digit numbers for pitchers became not cool. I grew up in North Carolina, so I went to games as often as I could, whenever we were up visiting family for a vacation or things like that, but Camden Yards … favorite ballpark of all time, and I’m really excited to pitch there.”
A week ago, he didn’t expect to be with the Orioles.
“I was very shocked,” Phillips said. “I was very surprised about it. I was just a huge Orioles fan growing up, so it’s a dream come true in ways and heartbreaking in others. I’m just very excited to be here and my family was very happy to hear about the news. We really didn’t think I’d be traded, but we were very excited when we found out it was to Baltimore.”
Position players pitch
Even though the Orioles were far out of this game early, Showalter stuck to using relievers to pitch and didn’t resort to using a position player as he did the night before.
Danny Valencia, who stuck out Joey Gallo, the only batter he faced, would be eager to help out again. Showalter isn’t as convinced.
“We knew we were going to hear about it for a while,” Showalter said about Valencia’s preening after he struck out Gallo. “That’s been one thing that’s been entertaining.”
Apparently, the relievers weren’t as keen on Valencia’s pitching.
“All the pitchers are wanting me to be sure to get him back out there for an extended outing,” Showalter said. “We’ll see if we can get that in order. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen, either.
“You don’t really want to do that. You get to the point of diminishing returns.”
Entering Friday, 39 position players have pitched 49 times this season, by far a record.