BALTIMORE—For some of the pitchers called up by the Orioles for the month of September, it’s a crucial time.
Over the last six days, the Orioles have added five relievers: right-handers David Hess, Branden Kline, Evan Phillips and Chandler Shepherd, and left-hander Tanner Scott.
All except for Shepherd, who has only one previous major league appearance, have made frequent trips between Triple-A Norfolk and the Orioles.
“It’s an audition,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “They’re going to continue to get opportunities and, fortunately, we’ve been playing a lot of close games where you’re not going to be able to use the same three or four guys every night.”
David Hess has 33 starts with the Orioles and eight relief appearances. After throwing 6 1/3 hitless innings in Toronto in his first start on April 1, Hess has dropped 10 straight decisions, and the Orioles wanted to pitch him in relief.
Because Norfolk was short of starters, Hess started there but will pitch out of the bullpen with the Orioles this month.
“When the opportunity comes to get out there and show what I’ve been working on this year, I’m excited to be able to do that,” Hess said.
The Orioles have a full 40-man roster. Two pitchers on the 60-day injured list, Alex Cobb and Josh Rogers, will have to be put back on the 40-man roster this fall. Room will need to be found for younger players who need to be protected for the first time this season.
“I’ve really tried to focus as much as I can this year on things that I can control,” Hess said. “Those decisions are above my pay grade.”
Hess and the others who have moved back and forth are likely to be here for the entire month.
“I think there’s something to be said about being able to settle into a routine on a daily basis,” Hess said.
Hyde won’t be shy about using them when necessary.
“Those guys are going to be called on pitch in a big spot,” he said. “I’m looking to see who’s improved over the course of the year, and ready to step up and be a back-end guy in the big leagues or at least a relief pitcher that we can count on.”
Kline and Phillips have been the ones most often recalled, often for just a handful of days. According to the Orioles, Phillips is in his eighth stint, Kline is on his sixth.
“I feel it’s important for me to finish on a strong note,” Phillips said. “That way I roll into the offseason with a positive mentality … I’m carrying that same mentality here with the Orioles. A lot of us are in the same mentality.”
All season long, Hyde has looked for relievers who can get outs.
“I think we’ve been really fair to those guys,” Hyde said. “We’ve given them ample opportunity to stay here. They’ve had their struggles, but now they’re back. They’re back with a fresh start.”
Kline was a feel-good story in spring training, coming back from years of injuries. After pitching in Triple-A for the first time, he got to make his major league debut on April 20.
“It’s kind of an opportunity to be able to showcase what we have over the course of the month,” Kline said. “I think a lot of the guys are in the same situation, the same boat. Whatever happens at the end of the season, happens. We understand that business has to be done.
“While we’re out there and we’re here, we’re not focusing on that. We’re just focusing on trying to win as many ballgames as we can and impacting the game in any way we can.”
Hyde has many options this month, and the pitchers will have opportunities.
“They’re going to get a nice look here in September and, hopefully, we continue to play close games where they’re pitching in meaningful spots,” Hyde said.
Three catchers: Hyde said that Pedro Severino and Chance Sisco will continue to get the majority of the playing time, but that Austin Wynns, who arrived on Tuesday, will get some action.