Orioles' rotation woes; Rule 5 dilemma; McKenna down, Hays coming back - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ rotation woes; Rule 5 dilemma; McKenna down, Hays coming back

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

After another disappointing start by Matt Harvey on Wednesday night, which left him with an ERA of 7.41, there was speculation that the team might cut ties with him.

That’s a possibility, but manager Brandon Hyde said after Harvey’s start, when he allowed seven runs on eight hits in three innings to the New York Mets, that Harvey would continue in the rotation.

The Orioles have had three offdays in the past eight days, and they won’t need a fifth starter until they play at Cleveland next week.

Keegan Akin will get Friday’s start when the Orioles begin a seven-game road trip at Tampa Bay. Jorge López and Bruce Zimmermann are expected to start on Saturday and Sunday.

John Means is on the 10-day injured list because a strained left shoulder. The Orioles aren’t likely to rush the return of their ace.

Without Means, the Orioles need another starter, and it’s likely that Dean Kremer will rejoin the team. In his last start at Triple-A Norfolk, Kremer allowed three runs on one hit, walking three and striking out seven in 4 2/3 innings.

With Akin, López, Zimmermann and perhaps Kremer in the rotation, the bullpen is likely to be tested. Although Harvey has been ineffective — in his last six starts, including one as an opener, Harvey has allowed 31 runs in 19 2/3 innings for a 14.19 ERA — the Orioles are likely to keep him, hoping that he could reverse course and eat some innings as he did in the season’s first month.

If they cut ties with Harvey, they’d have to add another starter, perhaps left-hander Alexander Wells, whose innings’ count would be closely monitored, putting more pressure on the bullpen.

Harvey’s performance eventually might force the Orioles’ hand. Wells, who is 3-2 with a 6.35 ERA in six outings with Norfolk,  is on the 40-man roster. So is left-hander Zac Lowther, who is 0-2 with a 7.15 ERA in three starts with the Tides.


Lowther, who was optioned to Norfolk on Monday, can’t be recalled until June 17th unless there’s an injury. He has a 15.19 ERA in three outings with the Orioles this season.

There are other choices. Right-hander Thomas Eshelman, who pitched in parts of the 2019 and 2020 seasons, is at Norfolk, but not on the 40-man roster. He’s 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA with the Tides.

Kyle Bradish is 1-0 with a 2.03 ERA in three starts at Norfolk since his promotion from Bowie. He’ll get a shot, but the Orioles might choose to keep him with the Tides for a while longer.

The Sceroler issue: The Orioles reinstated right-hander Mac Sceroler from the 10-day injured list on Tuesday to take Lowther’s place. Sceroler had a nightmarish two innings on Wednesday night. While Harvey allowed seven runs in the first three innings, Sceroler allowed six in the final two. He has a 14.29 ERA in three games.

The Orioles selected Sceroler and right-hander Tyler Wells in the Rule 5 draft last December.

Wells, who has a 4.28 ERA and 1.066 WHIP, has pitched well and it’s possible that the Orioles might try him as a starter later in the season.

Sceroler, who never pitched above High-A before this season, appears overmatched. Because he spent eight weeks on the injured list because of soreness in his right shoulder, the Orioles must keep him on the active list for almost all of what remains in the season so that his Rule 5 status won’t carry over until next season.

A player must accrue 90 days on the active list during his Rule 5 year so that he can be freely optioned the following season. Should Wells remain on the active list for the last three weeks of this month, he’ll have his 90 days, though the Orioles can’t option him until 2022.

Anthony Santander didn’t accrue enough days on the active roster in 2017, and his Rule 5 status was carried until May 2019. Reliever Pedro Araujo also was short of qualifying in 2018 and began the season just shy of 90 days, but the Orioles decided he wasn’t worth keeping and he was cut loose after the 2019 season. He hasn’t pitched in organized ball since.

The Orioles could always return Sceroler to the Cincinnati Reds, the team that drafted him.

Some fans have expressed hope that Zach Pop, the right-hander drafted by the Arizona and swapped to the Miami Marlins, will be returned to the team.

Pop has a 7.32 ERA in 18 games with the Marlins, who are last in the National League East. Hoping for Pop’s return seems like wishful thinking. If he were returned, he would go on a minor league roster and, if not added to the 40-man roster in November, he would be eligible for the Rule 5 draft next December.

McKenna goes back: The Orioles optioned outfielder Ryan McKenna to Triple-A Norfolk. They’re expected to activate Austin Hays from the 10-day injured list for Friday’s game.

Hays has been on the injured list since May 26th because of a strained right hamstring. McKenna, who has had four stints with the Orioles this season, is batting .195 with three RBIs in 33 games.

Note: The Orioles have signed right-handed reliever Logan Gillaspie. He pitched 43 games for Milwaukee in the 2018 and 2019 seasons and has been assigned to High-A Aberdeen.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Chicken1981

    June 11, 2021 at 7:59 am

    I’m trying to figure out what part of the season I missed where Harvey gave the O’s inns.The guy literally has maybe 3-4 start pass 5 inns with none being more then 6.He’s been a 4 1/3 pitcher all year

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 11, 2021 at 8:20 am

      Correct, he’s gotten outs in the sixth twice. Akin has yet to, and Kremer has once. They have to monitor the younger arms more carefully. He was signed with that hope.

    • Unoptionable-Option

      June 11, 2021 at 8:24 am

      Harvey is 3rd on the team in innings pitched, not awesome but something. He has 4 starts of 5+ innings and 3 starts of 4 2/3 innings and he started as an opener on short rest once. He has my undying love and admiration!

  2. Orioles20

    June 11, 2021 at 8:27 am

    Zimmermann and Means have been the best starters we have. Zimmermann did have a stretch of two or three starts that were bad but he’s been better since. López is very interesting. One start he’s great the next he can’t make out the fourth. Harvey is what he is. There are really no options at triple a. Kremer has been ok at Norfolk. Bradish just got there and Lowther and Wells have not looked good at all. Wells the rule five guy has been good. He’s had like two outings that were bad. Outside of that he’s been fine. I’d like to see him get a start. I would have like to seen Stewart be optioned over McKenna. I think McKenna provides more value with his speed and defense. Stewart goes on these power barrages for two weeks then proceeds to do nothing and he might be the worse defender on the team.

    • Icterus fan

      June 11, 2021 at 11:34 am

      I’m not tracking this stuff to the Nth degree, but I’m wondering if McKenna has had enough AB to make a real assessment? He seems to be more consistent than Stewart, and I don’t think he’s had as long of a look as Stewart. Probably better defensively, I’ll agree to that.
      Stewart is erratic offensively and not real aplomb in the field.
      Give McKenna more opportunity.

      • 66OsFan

        June 11, 2021 at 12:39 pm

        I think, IMHO, that this is a “make or break” year for DJ Stewart. He hasn’t lived up to expectations that were there when he was signed. I’m going to guess the front office is going to keep giving him as much playing time as possible to potentially wrap him in a package deal at the trade deadline. Nothing against Stewart, but I think he needs to be an everyday player to reach his potential, and with Mullins, Santander, Hays in the outfield, Stewart won’t get that here.

    • Diamondguy

      June 11, 2021 at 12:33 pm

      I tend to agree with you on Stewart. Send him down for a little while. McKenna has the speed and defense. Maybe give him a little time up in the majors for more at bats. You guys know the stats better than me though, it’s just my 2cents.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 11, 2021 at 1:31 pm

      Marty, Stewart was the No. 1 draft choice in 2015. McKenna was the fourth round pick. Just as in the case of Sisco, who was the second round pick in 2013 and Austin Wynns, who was the 10th round pick, that matters because the club has a lot invested in top picks.

      If the lower round pick clearly outperforms the higher pick, that won’t matter eventually.

      McKenna was called up because of injuries to Hays and Santander. His speed and defense matter, but the Orioles want to see Hays, Mullins, Santander and Stewart play concurrently, which has hardly happened.

      If the team was carrying 13 pitchers instead of 14, I could see McKenna in an extra outfielder role.

    • Unoptionable-Option

      June 11, 2021 at 2:32 pm

      Lopez’s last four starts went 5, 6, 6, and 5 innings. He has pitched only one (1) game, only one (1) game, the entire season so far that he has not pitched at least 4 innings. Only one (1) game. It’s not hard to look up a pitcher’s game log Orioles20, but I guess it is easier just to say anything.

      Bradish has had 3 starts at Norfolk, his 1st start for them was 5/25.

      Alexander Wells has had two nice outings in a row totaling 9 IP 10 K 4 H 1 ER.

      Your comments are infuriatingly full of misinformation, I need a good cry now…

    • CalsPals

      June 11, 2021 at 2:58 pm

      Maybe you should try a Snickers…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      June 11, 2021 at 4:10 pm

      Why doesn’t anybody around here believe in Stewart? I mean he’s no Sixto Lezcano or anything, but he has his value. Power and the ability to draw a walk … isnt’ that what the modern day GM is looking for?

  3. Orial

    June 11, 2021 at 8:34 am

    Hyde–“Harvey still in our rotation”. Ultimate lip service. Of course what else WAS he suppose to say at the moment? Yes that name Eshelman is starting to rear it’s ugly head–again. These young arms Hall,Rodriguez,Baumann,etc. better be the real deal because these pitching woes are going on just a little too long. Holt has been a pleasant addition to the coaching staff or has he? Is he more “wishful” thinking to us than “reality” thinking? The issues still exist. Oh but the O’s offense did respond to his return I must say. Glad Hays is back but the shine on his apple is starting to fade. Come on Austin you’re my favorite so it’s “now your time”.

    • Unoptionable-Option

      June 11, 2021 at 2:34 pm

      Snickers time for you, wow that’s quite a rant/post!

  4. afterp

    June 11, 2021 at 8:41 am

    What is Felix Hernandez up to? Need someone in the innings-eater role who will actually eat some innings. It looks like Harvey’s stuff is coming back but he needs to rediscover his consistency and hit his spots.

    I’m a glutton for punishment – got my tix for the 4 games here in Cleveland and looks like none of those games will be started by Means or Zimmerman.

  5. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 11, 2021 at 8:44 am

    Wow Rich …. looking at those ERAs you listed for the O’s starters at Richmond, made me realize that AAA must be loaded with prodigious sluggers. Doesn’t look like the Os’ will be getting much help this year.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 11, 2021 at 8:58 am

      Norfolk, Ken, not Richmond.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        June 11, 2021 at 11:14 am

        Thanks Rich. Of course it is … yet another sign that senility is settling in. Half the time I think it’s still Rochester.

  6. Tileman

    June 11, 2021 at 8:52 am

    Great article in SI regarding the ubiquitous use of sticky stuff on baseballs. Interesting that every team in AL East has elevated spin rates including the O’s this year. I’m hoping our great young pitchers in the minors are clean.


    • Hallbe62

      June 11, 2021 at 4:52 pm

      Where are the umpires in all this ?

      Complicit ?

  7. Bman

    June 11, 2021 at 9:30 am

    I check the MIA box score everyday to see if Pop imploded but the Marlins refuse to let him go at least so far. Os will def keep Wells. Not sure about sceroler. The rotation is going to remain a mess this year esp with Means out of it. They’ll have to get some help by the end of this season or next, or the natives will get restless. Hall, Rodriguez, Bradish, Baumann, Kremer, Smith should all be ready pretty soon.

    • CalsPals

      June 11, 2021 at 10:16 am

      Tongue in cheek, the natives will get restless by the end of this season or next…oh well…go O’s…

  8. Shamus

    June 11, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    Os will take the Tampa series…. Book it

    • Icterus fan

      June 11, 2021 at 1:53 pm

      Duuude, that’s some swagger, and I surely hope your right! Me thinks it’s a tall order, but I like the optimism.
      I’ll be tuned in.

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