BALTIMORE—The Orioles are hoping for a long start from Alex Cobb on Monday night against the Toronto Blue Jays. They’ve had only one extended start, when Tommy Milone pitched six scoreless innings against Washington on August 7th.
Manager Brandon Hyde said he’s confident the Orioles will start seeing longer starts.
“I’m not concerned about it,” Hyde said in a video conference call on Monday. “We’ve faced good lineups.”
The Orioles haven’t been in a lot of blowouts, Hyde pointed out. They’ve played seven one-run games and a pair of two-run games.
“We’ve been playing a lot of really close games, and you go to your bullpen early because you like the matchup better,” Hyde said.
“It would be nice to have a 7-1 lead in the fourth or the fifth to let the guy go an extra couple of innings. We just haven’t had that. It’s the nature of the games we’re playing as well as not having a normal spring training ramp-up. Hopefully, we can start going deeper as a starting staff.”
Hyde has been impressed by the bullpen. With he return of John Means, he moved Thomas Eshelman into the bullpen as a long man along with Jose López, who threw four innings on Sunday when Means couldn’t get out of the first inning.
“I think as the starters continue to build, I think that’s going to be very, very helpful,” Hyde said. “They only had 2 1/2, three weeks of spring training. We were comfortable where they were at the start, but I’d love to see those guys build up a little more and start going deeper in the game.”
He’s avoided using relievers three days in a row. Still, Miguel Castro has pitched in 10 games. Paul Fry and Travis Lakins have pitched in nine, and five pitchers — Shawn Armstrong, Mychal Givens, Evan Phillips, Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser — each have appeared in eight.
Phillips was sent to the alternate site at Bowie on Monday and replaced by Dillon Tate.
“I’d love to slow some of the workload down for some of those guys because I do know we’ve been relying on them heavily,” Hyde said. “That’s why Dillion Tate is here, somebody that will be available tonight.
“All those guys have done an amazing job. They’re staying ready. They continue to come into my office and say they’re available tonight. I’ve got to slow it down for some of these guys.”
Armstrong has compiled 1.80 ERA. He has given up just five hits in 10 innings. He said the combination of director of pitching, Chris Holt, pitching coach Doug Brocail and bullpen coach Darren Holmes has made things easier for the bullpen.
“The catchers are doing a phenomenal job studying hitters,” Armstrong said. “I don’t think it’s just one person. I think overall, as a whole, we’re relying on each other. We’re talking about how we attack certain hitters. We’re talking about how we attacked hitters last year. Givens is playing a huge role here.”
Armstrong cited Scott’s improvement. After making his Orioles debut in September 2017, Scott was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk often in 2018 and 2019. Now, he’s here to stay, and that’s helpful.
“You never know when you’re going up going down. It’s huge,” Armstrong said. .
“What he’s doing know, he’s a great individual, he’s a good dude, he works his butt off each and every day … He’s got a chance to make a lot of money in this game and help the Orioles for a long time.”
Armstrong thinks that the abbreviated summer camp didn’t help the starters, but didn’t hurt the bullpen.
“We can get going quicker than a starter can,” Armstrong said. “A starter was built up to three or four innings when spring training was shut down. Then you got shut down for four months, and that’s hard especially not knowing when we’re coming back to play.
Tate here, Phillips gone: Tate was on the 10-day injured list after he was hit by a line drive off Pat Valaika’s bat, injuring his elbow in an intrasquad game.
“Dillon’s worked his way back after taking the contusion on his arm from the line drive at the end of summer camp, and he’s been throwing the ball well at the secondary site,” Hyde said
“I like how he threw the ball the second half of last year. I’m excited to have him.”
Phillips was 1-1 with a 5.87 ERA and walked seven batters in 7 2/3 innings.
“I really like Evan Phillips,” Hyde said. “I think Evan Phillips has a chance to be a really good major league reliever. I think he’s just hard on himself. A lot of time, he just fights himself on the mound. He’s throwing 95, 96 with a wipeout slider that I’d love to see him throw more and just continue to gain confidence and hopefully be back here soon.”
Iglesias sits—for now: Shortstop José Iglesias isn’t in the starting lineup for the second straight game as the Orioles begin a series against the Blue Jays. Hyde said that Iglesias’ left quadriceps muscle continues to bother him.
“He’s been pretty sore the last couple of days,” Hyde said. “So I was trying to stay away from him [Sunday], didn’t want to pinch-hit him, didn’t want to play him.”
Hyde said that Iglesias is better than he was on Sunday, and he’ll continue to monitor each day.
The Orioles could put Iglesias on the 10-day injured list instead of spotting rest for him, but that presents a concern.
“That’s a possibility, but the problem is he’s getting on base 50 percent of the time,” Hyde said. “It’s a good problem and a bad problem to have. We’re going to consider everything. I think we’ll see how he feels [Tuesday].”