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Orioles Continue To Search For Answers On The Mound

June 21, 2019
As the losses continue to mount, the patience has clearly worn thin for some of the Orioles' pitchers.

Struggling right-hander Dan Straily, who was recently moved to the bullpen, was designated for assignment June 20. 

Following a 5-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners that extended their losing streak to a season-high nine games, the Orioles optioned relievers Paul Fry and Evan Phillips to Triple-A Norfolk to add some fresh arms for the beleaguered bullpen. 

Compounding the problems, lefty John Means, who has been the team's most consistent pitcher, was placed on the 10-day injured list (retroactive to June 17) with a left shoulder strain. 

All of this adds up to some significant challenges for a team taking the first steps in a total rebuild. 

"Nothing really is certain at this point," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said about the pitching situation.

Means has already thrown 70.2 innings this season. The left-hander has gone 6-4 with an impressive 2.67 ERA and is widely regarded as the club's biggest surprise this season. 

While Means' velocity has actually risen over the past couple of starts, the Orioles want to keep him healthy for the long term. As a result, a little break could bode well for his future this season and beyond. Most recently, Means gave up two runs during a five-inning start against the Boston Red Sox June 16.

"Just got a little bit of cranky shoulder. Just got a little tired in his last start at the end there," Hyde said of Means' injury. "He's a big part of our future, so we're going to push him back a bit. He should be OK to start once he comes off. 

"He's going to throw a side in the next couple of days and we're re-evaluate it from there. But we just see him missing one start and be ready to go when the IL stint is up."

However, Means' absence throws another wrinkle with the rotation. The Orioles are already struggling to find consistent starters. Hyde plans to use a bullpen game against the Mariners June 21.

The Orioles have lost 13 of their past 15 games. While the focus has been on the pitching, the Orioles are also struggling offensively, scoring just 28 runs during the current nine-game losing streak.

Meanwhile, Hyde is looking to navigate the team through the current troubled waters and hopefully find some consistency.

"We don't add-on leads and we don't add on runs," Hyde told the media after losing the series opener against Seattle. "It seems like once we get down these last couple of weeks we have a hard time getting back in it. We're having a tough time against major-league bullpens that are going right through us as of late."

Straily, who was signed just prior to the regular-season opener, never appeared comfortable with the club. He went 2-4 with a 9.82 ERA and a 1.99 WHIP, surrendering 22 homers in 47.2 innings.

The move to the bullpen didn't solve Straily's woes. He allowed three home runs in just 2.1 innings during his last appearance against the Oakland Athletics June 18. 

"We're hoping he stays in organization," Hyde said. "He just never got off to a good start here. Had a weird spring training and never got going. We're hoping he goes down to Triple-A and finds it to hopefully come back at some point and help us."

Following the bullpen game, Cashner (6-3, 4.48 ERA) is scheduled to start in Seattle June 22. He  is 2-5 with a 4.22 ERA in 11 career games (10 starts) against the Mariners.  

Gabriel Ynoa (0-4, 5.65 ERA) will close out the series the following day. The right-hander is the latest Orioles pitcher struggling to keep the ball in the park and has allowed eight homers in his last four outings.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox