Continuing the competition for pitchers

Yesterday afternoon, the Orioles began their slate of Spring Training games with right-hander Yefry Ramírez on the bump. Ramírez is vying for a spot in the rotation, potentially landing as the fifth starter. Last season for the Orioles, he appeared in 17 games, starting 12 and pitching to a 1-8 record. Pitching 65.1 innings, Ramírez finished the season with a 5.92 ERA.

Facing a split-squad Minnesota Twins lineup, Ramírez was scheduled to go two innings and nothing more. He threw 45 pitches over the two innings, working out of trouble in each and limiting Twins batters to just two hits. He walked two batters, one in each inning, but didn’t allow them to score.

One thing Ramírez will need to do if he wants to break camp with the team is to cut down his walks. He averaged five walks per nine innings last season which certainly will not warrant him a spot in the starting rotation. Also, he allowed opposing batters to hit .271 with runners in scoring position. Off to a good start this spring, Twins batters went 0-for-3 yesterday with RISP against him.

Working in relief yesterday, Mike Wright also pitched two innings, appearing in his first game this spring. Entering in the third inning, Wright allowed back-to-back singles that would have put runners on the corners if it weren’t for Joey Rickard’s first outfield assist of the spring.

Exiting unscathed, Wright threw 24 pitches over the two innings he worked. Usually the saying is, “make it or break it,” but this year for Wright, he has to make it. He’s out of options and has no choice but to make the team out of Spring Training, otherwise, he’ll be exposed to waivers and potentially claimed by another team.

Paul Fry is projected to be one of three left-handed relievers the Orioles carry with them to New York. He made his first appearance yesterday, working after Wright in the fifth. He issues a leadoff walk and then a single to left field, however, he to finished his day of work without allowing a run. Throwing 24 pitches himself, Fry ended his day by snagging a come-backer in mid-air off the bat of Twins first baseman, Tyler Austin.

Evan Phillips and Bo Schultz are both trying to make the team as a reliever. Phillips started one game last season for the Orioles, a two-inning outing against the Toronto Blue Jays in September. However, Schultz hasn’t started a game since 2014, when he was with the Triple-A affiliate for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Phillips could be considered an, opener,” if manager Brandon Hyde wants to take that route this season.

Working the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, Phillips too threw 24 pitches and Schultz threw 16. In the sixth, Phillips erased a leadoff walk by inducing a double play ball. However, back-to-back singles seemed to set the Twins up to score, except Phillips was able to strike out third baseman Randy Cesar ending the threat.

Schultz dealt with a torn UCL and missed the entire 2017 season. He made 32 appearances in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system last year, with eight starts with High-A Bradenton and 24 with Triple-A Indianapolis. Much like Phillips in the sixth, Schultz allowed back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. A double-play ball left the Twins with two outs, but they were able to push one run across – uncharged to Schultz – on a fielding error. Still, Schultz limited the damage and didn’t allow another run.

Josh Rogers is another candidate to lock down a back-end rotation spot. He made his major league debut last season but allowed 11 earned runs in 11.2 innings pitched. He won his major league debut on August 28 against the Blue Jays, but gave up eight earned runs over his next two outings, taking the loss in each.

Pitching the eighth inning yesterday, Rogers actually threw the least amount of pitches of the seven pitchers used. Allowing just one single, Rogers was out of the inning after just 12 pitches, ten of them for strikes.

Zach Pop ended the game with a three-up, three-down ninth inning. He threw 15 pitches, nine for strikes. Projected to begin the season with Double-A Bowie, if he replicates his 2018, a promotion could be in his future by mid-summer. He pitched 30 games in relief in the Dodgers minor league system last year before being traded to the Orioles as part of the Manny Machado deal. His combined 1.53 ERA at the minor league level last year would be welcomed – not only at Triple-A Norfolk – but in the big leagues, as well.

Nothing can be determined after one game into the exhibition season. There’s still plenty of time for each of the pitchers in camp to make a splash and turn some heads. The Orioles will send David Hess to the mound to start today’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. The game will not be televised on MASN, however, you can listen along on the flagship station of the Orioles, 105.7 The Fan.

In no particular order after Hess, manager Brandon Hyde will call upon Dillon Tate, Gabriel Ynoa, Cody Carroll, Branden Kline, Tanner Scott and Sean Gilmartin to finish the game. Depending on how the game is started, the same format as yesterday could be followed, with the first two pitchers throwing two innings and each of the next five tossing one.

Brian Pinter

Brian Pinter is the Director of Coverage on the Baltimore Orioles for Maryland Sports Blog. His views and opinions are that of his own and he welcomes any and all discussions. Follow along with Brian Pinter this season on Twitter, @b_pinter23.

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