TORONTO — Interim manager Juan Samuel said the team will stick with its current rotation at least one more time through despite Orioles starters' posting an 8.50 ERA in the first 12 games after the All-Star break.
"Right now, everybody is going to make their next start," Samuel said. "Hopefully, these guys can figure it out up here, but looking at the options that we would have right now, there are no options. These guys are going to have to make some pitches, bear down and get us through this stretch that we're in. That's what they're going to have to do, make the adjustments."
Samuel had said several times over the past week that the Orioles would have to consider making changes if the starters' struggles continue. Brad Bergesen, who is 3-9 with a 6.95 ERA and has given up 21 earned runs, 39 hits and nine walks over his past four starts, was believed to be in the most jeopardy, but he'll get another opportunity Saturday against the Kansas City Royals.
Rookies Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta will start Thursday and Friday, respectively, with Kevin Millwood starting Sunday's series finale in Kansas City. The Orioles discussed promoting Triple-A Norfolk prospect Zach Britton for Saturday's start in place of Bergesen, but Britton threw 100 pitches in 5 2/3 innings for the Tides on Tuesday night. He is expected to make his big league debut this season, but the club wants to wait until next month. Chris Tillman, who has been optioned to the minors two times during the season, is another candidate to join the club if rotation changes are made. He's scheduled to pitch Thursday for Norfolk.
"Obviously, you don't want to see all those guys struggling at the same time, but they have to step up," pitching coach Rick Kranitz said. "Yeah, they are young, but they still have to get the job done. We can't continue to go day in and day out and have guys not give us innings. You can't do that. They all have enough stuff, and they need to start earning their keep here. You certainly don't like to see young kids struggle, but you also need to earn your way here. To stay here, you have to pitch well. It has been tough, and it has been real tough on the bullpen as well."
Since the All-Star break, Bergesen is 0-3 with a 9.37 ERA in three starts. Matusz is 0-2 with a 12.15 ERA in two outings. Arrieta is 0-1 with a 9.64 ERA in two starts. Tillman went 0-1 with a 27.00 ERA in one start before he was sent back to Triple-A. Millwood is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in two second-half starts.
Jeremy Guthrie, who started Wednesday's series finale here, has been the only starter exempt from the rotation's problems, which have spurred questions about the way the organization has developed its highly touted young pitchers.
"It's frustrating because these guys should be taking more steps forward and they're not, they haven't been," Kranitz said. "I've seen some little signs, but they have to go all the way through. They have to keep going forward. That's a tough balancing act because you still have to stay positive, but the reality is you have to get the job done. They can't control the wins and losses, but you can control where you throw the baseball and be competitive on a nightly basis. That shouldn't be in doubt."
Jays coach thinks Showalter good fit for Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays third base and infield coach Brian Butterfield, who worked on Buck Showalter's staffs with the New York Yankees from 1994 to 1995 and with the Arizona Diamondbacks from 1998 to 2000, spoke to his former boss a couple of times recently, and he said he came away with the sense that the Orioles' top managerial candidate is getting the itch to return to the dugout.
"I think he has had the itch [to manage] ever since he's gotten out, and I don't think he'll ever lose that," Butterfield said. "He keeps everything pretty close to the vest, but I assume over the last three years since he's been out, he's wanted to get back in somewhere. I hope he does. … He has so many redeeming qualities that it's a little bit of a surprise to me why he hasn't been in the league for a while. But, you know what, speaking to him a couple of times recently, he says he feels good physically. The managing and the coaching sometimes can take a toll on you, but I think he's in a way where he's itching to get back. I think if it were to happen in Baltimore, I think he would be a tremendous fit.
"I think he would be a good fit anywhere. I think he's a fit with young players, I think he's a fit with older players. He's one of the best baseball people who I've ever been around. He's prepared, he's detailed, he does things the right way. He's demanding. He's demanding of his coaches as well as his players. I think good baseball people are going to fit in any type of situation."
Around the horn