First, it was Brian Matusz being sent down. Then after a brilliant start, Chis Tillman went to Bowie (so he could start over the All Star Break). Then Jake Arrieta was optioned to Norfolk after yet another bad start. Thus, that leaves Jason Hammel and Wei-Yen Chen as the only real starters on the staff.
Okay, I know that Dana Eveland and Miguel Gonzalez (tonight’s starter) technically can start, but they are spot starters at best. Which means, right now, there are two starters, and that is not a good thing for a team in the middle of a playoff hunt.
Fortunately, the All-Star break is coming up and the O’s have Hammel and Chen lined up to pitch the final two games. Hammel did not get the much deserved All-Star nod, but at least, he should be fresh to pitch when the O’s return to action on Friday. So assuming Hammel starts on Friday and Chen is ready to on Saturday, the O’s will have to bring Chris Tillman being back up and find players for the remaining two slots.
What can the O’s do? (after the bump)
-Jamie Moyer is still out there. He was released by the Blue Jays yesterday.
-There is Zach Britton, but he hasn’t been exactly lights out. He is 2-1 at Norfolk with a 4.96 ERA. Matter of fact, Peter Gammons tweeted out yesterday “Rick Peterson helped fix Chris Tillman. Now, Zach Britton?” He could be a viable option later in the season, but right now seems a bit scary.
-Then there are the usual cast of characters – Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken, and Steve Johnson (although Bergesen and Johnson have both been used out of the pen recently). Berken seems the most likely but he struggled while he was in Baltimore earlier this season.
-The most intriguing option is the veteran, Joel Piniero. He was signed earlier in the season, rehabbed an injury, and has pitched two decent games at Norfolk. He would be lucky to be a .500 pitcher in the AL East, but at least he has experience.
It’s time for Duquette to pay the piper and bring in a front line starter for the remainder of the season. I know it’s going to hurt. It’s going to mean saying goodbye to pitchers and players that I have loved seeing go through the system. If he doesn’t do anything, this grea first half of the season will just have been a waste.
Matt Sadler is the Managing Editor for BSR. When he is not covering sports, he is finding all the great dining spots in Tampa, FL. You can find him on Twitter at @TheMarinara.