July 11, 2012
Any time you can dust off an old Melvin Mora quote, it's a good thing. Mora uttered the above phrase in December 2005, when the Orioles signed catcher Ramon Hernandez but failed to improve the starting pitching staff.
Mora is no longer in pro ball, but the familiar refrain in Baltimore remains true.
Barring a trade, the Orioles are 85 games into 2012 and only have two set starters: Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen.
They've used just eight pitchers to make starts so far this season, compared to 20 at Triple-A Norfolk. But two -- Miguel Gonzalez (center) and Chris Tillman (left) -- made their 2012 big-league starting debuts last week. And the Orioles currently have a fifth-starter hole, which has to be filled Tuesday. Zach Britton (right) is one possibility.
Last week, the Orioles demoted three-fifths of their rotation, with Tommy Hunter, Matusz and Arrieta all being sent to Norfolk due to ineffectiveness. Gonzalez and Tillman both pitched well in their first starts and likely will get a couple more opportunities.
But the Orioles will be hard pressed to keep pace with such rotation uncertainty. And as good as Hammel and Chen have been, it will be a challenge to duplicate their first halves.
Showalter made a point of trying to get both pitchers extra rest in the early months of the season because Hammel has been dealing with a sore knee and Chen is accustomed to pitching every sixth day in Japan. But with only one scheduled off day off between Friday and August 12 -- a span of 30 games in 31 days -- they won't have the luxury of additional rest.
It wouldn't be surprising if 10 or more pitchers make a start for the Orioles in the second half, with at least one of the demoted Norfolk trio re-appearing in Baltimore.