Orioles' rotation set; Zimmermann roughed up in final spring game; Hays puts up big numbers - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Orioles’ rotation set; Zimmermann roughed up in final spring game; Hays puts up big numbers

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

What’s happening? –The Orioles have a mandatory day off in Sarasota, Florida after they concluded Grapefruit League play. The team will work on Wednesday, then fly to Boston for Thursday’s season opener against the Red Sox.

Jorge López and Dean Kremer will be the Orioles’ fourth and fifth starters, joining John Means, Matt Harvey and Bruce Zimmermann in the rotation. López, Kremer and Means will pitch at Yankee Stadium on April 5-7.

Means and Zimmermann are left-handers.

“Dean’s the youngest of the group (25), and so we’re going to give him the least amount of innings,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We’re going to pitch him at the end, but I wanted to mix a right-hander in there between John and Zimm, and that’s where Matt’s fell.

Veteran right-hander Félix Hernández requested and was granted his release. Hernández did not pitch after experiencing discomfort in his right elbow on March 16th.

Mac Sceroler and Tyler Wells, right-handers selected in the Rule 5 draft, made the team, as did infielders Ramón Urias and Pat Valaika.

Since the Orioles are planning to carry 14 pitchers at the start, two pitchers from a group of four who pitched for the team last year — left-hander Paul Fry and right-handers Travis Lakins, Cole Sulser and Dillon Tate — will be cut to enable the team to reach its 26-player limit.

Hyde said that Anthony Santander, who has been out with a sore oblique, took batting practice on Monday. He’ll continue to take batting practice this week, and Hyde expects him to play on Thursday.

What happened? In his first start since being told he made the rotation, Zimmermann allowed seven runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the Orioles concluded their spring with an 8-3 loss in seven innings to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida. Zimmermann had allowed just one hit, and no runs, in his previous nine innings.

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Zimmermann allowed three home runs, two to Willy Adames and another to Yoshi Tsutsugo. He struck out three and didn’t walk a batter.

“Obviously not to happy with it,” Zimmermann said. “We still went in there with a goal in mind of some things to accomplish. I’ve got to do a better job with some 0-2 pitches. Besides that, it took a little bit to get into the rhythm today as opposed to the other outings that I’ve had.”

Zimmermann, who’s from Ellicott City and pitched for Loyola Blakefield, is scheduled to start on Sunday against the Red Sox. He was eager to share the news with his family.

“It was awesome,” he said. “I had a feeling I was going to make the roster. Being named the No. 3 starter is a great honor. I’m ecstatic about it … It was definitely a special moment calling my family members and telling some of my friends. Some of them already booked flights up to Boston to come see me for that opening weekend and looking forward to the opener in Baltimore.

“It was definitely a nice culmination to a lot of hard work this offseason and coming into spring training and pitching well. It means a lot, and I’m just looking forward to continuing into the regular season and pitching well.”

Austin Hays and Rio Ruiz homered for the Orioles. Hays ends spring training with a .392 average, a 1.192 OPS, four homers and 13 RBIs

“I feel really good — defensively, offensively,” Hays said. “The main thing is my body feels really healthy. I’m finally ready to play 162, so I’m really looking forward to getting that started.”

What’s up with? Travis Lakins. Last season, Lakins and Thomas Eshelman each had three wins, a club high in the 60-game season. Now, he might not make the team.

In six spring games, Lakins had an 8.59 ERA, giving up seven runs on eight hits in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out eight and walked three and allowed two home runs.

In 2020, Lakins was 3-2 with a 2.81 ERA. He struck out 25 in 25 2/3 innings, walked 13 and gave up two homers.

What’s the word? “We are going to monitor innings, and we might be cutting down later in the summer, probably will be. I’m not going to be on an innings’ limit with guys early.”­-Hyde on pitchers’ workload.

What’s what? Teams again will have the use of a five-man taxi squad on the road. It’s to ensure replacement players are on hand if there’s an injury or illness. It’s also to keep players from flying commercially and being exposed to Covid-19.

The taxi squad will be made up of five players, one of whom must be a catcher. Hyde indicated that pitchers on the 40-man roster who are part of the final cuts could accompany the Orioles to Boston.

Catchers Nick Ciuffo and Austin Wynns and utilityman Stevie Wilkerson, who remain on the camp roster for the moment, could be contenders for the taxi squad.

Those players will work out with the team before the game but, unless they’re being used as a bullpen catcher, can’t be in uniform for the game.

What’s the number? 2. Hays’ .392 batting average and 1.192 OPS rank second highest in spring training. He’s fifth in on-base percentage (.446) and fourth in slugging percentage (.745).

What’s the record? 10-17-1. The Orioles play the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park at 2:05 p.m. on Thursday. Means will face Nathan Eovaldi.

Call for questions: In the next several days, I’ll be answering questions from readers. If you’d like to be considered for our monthly mailbag, please write your question in the comments section below or email me: [email protected]

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Orial

    March 30, 2021 at 8:31 am

    First up again I guess. Age has it’s advantages–“early to bed,early to rise”. Anyone notice these last few years how every time a pitcher has a great outing/stretch and gets our hopes all up he proceeds to go out and get rocked the very next time(yeah you Mr. Zimmerman)?. I guess it keeps us off their band-wagons. You do realize that we’re one dead arm period by Means away from Matt Harvey being our ace. I’m getting over the losing of a Gold Glover at 2B finally now that we have Ruiz fielding the position. Oh wait he made a throwing error yesterday. Oh well. I know,here I go again –“grumpy old man”. Now for the good news–how about that Austin Hays. Can’t wait Rich for you to ask us our W/ L predictions.

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 30, 2021 at 8:45 am

      I wasn’t going to, but I’m afraid you’ll offer them anyway, Orial.

  2. bobbymac824

    March 30, 2021 at 8:46 am

    Nice wrap Rich! How does the taxi squad avoid the commercial airline travel? Will writers be traveling with the team and when at OPACY, will you have a press area or will Covid concerns continue as before? Thanks!

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 30, 2021 at 8:50 am

      Thank you, Bobby. The taxi squad travels with the rest of the team.

      We don’t travel with the team, but I know some of my colleagues and I will be at Fenway on Thursday. I’ll be on the trip to Boston and New York. Until protocols are loosened, the only trips I take will be closer ones.

      As we did last year, we’ll have a socially distant press box with a much smaller group of media members.

  3. mlbbirdfan

    March 30, 2021 at 9:06 am

    In fantasy baseball, where batting the categories are:
    BA
    R
    HR
    RBI
    SB
    Who would you draft for 2021, if you could not change your roster for the entire season, and, you could only draft one player, with the final pick in the draft (and Mancini + Santander were already drafted):
    Mountcastle? or
    Hays? or
    Mullins?
    AND, why would you pick your guy?
    – Thanks!

    • Rob IsraOsFan

      March 30, 2021 at 11:13 am

      Hays. Why? Just read Rich’s article above.

      • Rich Dubroff

        March 30, 2021 at 11:16 am

        Rob, mlbbirdfan is submitting a question for the mailbag, and I’ll answer it then.

  4. BrooksPJs

    March 30, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    Rich,

    Did Wade LeBlanc make the team?

    BPJ

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 30, 2021 at 2:04 pm

      Yes

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      March 30, 2021 at 4:40 pm

      C’mon PJs …. you lectured one of our fellow readers to go to baseball-ref dot com to look up something a few days ago. I might suggest that you actually read bb.com’s articles. If you had …you would have know LeBlanc made the team several articles back.

    • Icterus fan

      March 30, 2021 at 5:08 pm

      Ouch

    • CalsPals

      March 30, 2021 at 5:24 pm

      Lol…go O’s…

  5. WorldlyView

    March 30, 2021 at 11:20 pm

    Rich: Questions about the taxi squad. If the rules have been established, do the players on the squad have to be on the 40 man roster? If not, will this help the stronger teams stockpile extra players? What will the status of the O’s’ squad’s players be with Norfolk? Will players be allowed to rotate between the latter and the taxi squad? If not, could some players on the squad be inactive during the entire season? Thanks.

  6. CalsPals

    March 31, 2021 at 8:42 am

    Rich: question: with the taxi squad being used for every game how do its members get any actual playing time?…thx & go O’s…

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