Rapada here, Tillman time
Clay Rapada is in Baltimore and is expected to be activated prior to Monday’s series opener, which kicks off a long three-team homestand against the Twins, Yankees and Red Sox.
Rapada signed a Minor League contract with the Orioles this offseason and was one of the spring’s final cuts given that the O’s couldn’t afford the luxury of going with a lefty specialist in their bullpen. But given the struggles of their lone lefty Michael Gonzalez, and the groin injury to reliever Chris Jakubauskas, adding Rapada should give Showalter another late-game weapon.
Rapada has thrown two scoreless innings for Triple-A Norfolk and would be available out of the ‘pen tonight. Jakubauskas to the DL gives Rapada a spot on the 25-man roster, but he still needs his contract to be purchased, which adds him to the 40-man. The simplest move would be to transfer Justin Duchscherer to the 60-day DL although the Orioles can certainly take a handful of guys off their current 40-man and chances are they would not lose them to waivers.
Adding Rapada, who is mostly a few batters kind of guy, in place of Jakubauskas makes it even more important for the starters to be getting deeper into games. Josh Rupe is still the O’s primary long man and Jeremy Accardo and Jason Berken are capable of going multiple innings as well. But it’d be nice to see the starters start to get into a rhythm similar to what we saw the first week of the season. It starts tonight with Chris Tillman, who turned 23 on Friday.
Tillman has been anticipating this start since his last outing ended. He’s not a particularly emotional guy, but you can tell he was upset that night at Yankee Stadium. Make no mistake, he knows he’s pitching for his rotation spot. The O’s might not have a lot (or any, depending on how you look at it) starting pitching depth, but manager Buck Showalter is not going to keep running a struggling Tillman out there every five days.