BOSTON—The biggest remaining question for the final six games of this lost 2018 Orioles season is: Who will be there to start the games?
For the moment, manager Buck Showalter has just two confirmed starters, Dylan Bundy, who lasted just three innings and 90 pitches in the Orioles’ 6-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Monday, and David Hess.
Yefry Ramirez, who was scheduled to start Wednesday, has a cut on his right thumb, and Showalter wants to push his start back. Alex Cobb, who lasted just four pitches because of a blister on Sunday, and Andrew Cashner (knee) are both finished for the season.
John Means, whose contract was selected from Triple-A Norfolk, may pitch behind Jimmy Yacabonis on Tuesday or Means could get the start on Wednesday.
The Orioles promoted Means over Dillon Tate because Tate came up with a sore right shoulder.
Means is also a left-hander. The club’s only starts by a lefty were the three by Josh Rogers, who has been sent home because he met the Orioles imposed innings’ limit.
Bundy throws far too many pitches
Bundy gave up four runs on five hits in a plodding three innings. He allowed his major league-leading 39th home run to Mookie Betts, perhaps the leading candidate for American League Most Valuable Player.
There’s pressure on Bundy because of the injured starters and the limitations on the bullpen.
“I know all that stuff going into the start, but you try not to think about any of that and just go out there and pitch your game,” Bundy said. “That’s what I tried to do, and it just didn’t work out tonight.”
Bundy is 8-16 with a 5.49 ERA. He’ll get a final start on Saturday.
The Orioles are 45-111 and have equaled the 1939 St. Louis Browns, who limped to a 43-111 record for most losses in franchise history.
Jones in left field
Adam Jones was in left field for the first time as an Oriole on Monday. The last time Jones played left field was Sept. 30, 2007, his last game with Seattle before his trade to Baltimore.
Jones had no idea when he walked into the clubhouse that he was playing left, and was overjoyed when he found out. Showalter decided to start DJ Stewart in right field.
“We think DJ’s got a chance to contribute up here, and I want him to take the opportunity to play right field here and tomorrow, the next day, get some innings in left field,” Showalter said. “That’s why he played left and right in New York. I just want him to gain every possible thing from coming here.”
Jones played the first seven innings in left, then moved to right for the eighth. It was the first time in his career that he changed positions during a game.
This could be the final week Jones is with the Orioles, but says he’s not getting nostalgic.
“Thirty-three, body still feels good, still feels like there’s a lot of gas in the tank,” Jones said.
“Some team could use me, I’m sure. I’m glad that I’ve been able to stay a lot healthier this year. Me and Buck have had a strategic plan of taking days off. It’s benefiting me now. I feel 10 times better at this point of the season than I did all of last year. It’s good to feel good. It’s coming to an end here. The season ends. My contract ends. I’m an optimistic person. You never know what could happen. You’ve always got to keep your options open.”
Means will be No. 56
When Means pitches, he’ll be the 56th player used by the Orioles this season, extending their club record. He’ll be the 29th pitcher, another club record.
Means was an 11th-round draft choice in 2014, and the left-hander was 1-4 with a 4.30 ERA in eight games at Double-A Bowie. After his ascension to Triple-A Norfolk, Means was 6-5 with a 3.48 ERA in 20 games.
“John had a good year,” Showalter said. “He got better as he went up. I thought he pitched as well if not better in Triple-A than Double-A.”
Means had been throwing recently at Sarasota, and the Orioles have to protect him on the 40-man roster, so summoning him wasn’t out of the question. He’s hoping to be in the conversation for a starting spot in 2019.
“I’m just going to go out there trying to do the best I can and be the pitcher I am,” Means said. “I’m just going to go in and do it. I’m excited about next year and ready to go.”
Means was satisfied with how he performed.
“I was really happy with the season I had,” Means said. “There were definitely some ups and downs, but I thought it was pretty consistent for the most part. I didn’t finish the year like I wanted to, and I honestly wasn’t surprised when I didn’t get called up in September because I just didn’t finish as strong as I wanted, but I’m glad I can kind of redeem myself here.”