September callups (Bundy and Gausman?)

Orioles manager Buck Showalter had what he deemed an “impromptu” meeting with some of the organization’s coaches on Friday as the group  discussed the looming September callup decisions.  Showalter is expected to confer with executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette in the next few days, but wanted to get a feel for what others were saying and said the group was pretty much on the same page.

“There’s only a couple guys in there potentially that there was some discussion about,” Showalter said. “The rest of them was, in our coaches’ mind, pretty cut and dry. But Dan’s always got some ideas we haven’t thought about and there’s some other variable to keep in mind when you are calling guys up.

I know it won’t matter if you are on the [40-man] roster or not, like it hasn’t all year. If they can help us, they are coming.  We will figure it out.”

Two of the most intriguing names are pitching prospects Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, with Bundy already on the 40-man. While it’s been heavily speculated Bundy will make his debut in Baltimore this season, there are some in the organization who feel Gausman –the club’s first round-pick in this year’s Draft — should also be strongly considered. Gausman is a college arm –out of Louisiana State University– and more polished as a pitcher. And, if Duquette has shown one thing, it’s that he’s not afraid to pull the trigger (Manny Machado anyone?) if he thinks it will help the current club even a little bit.

Despite his less-than-stellar stat line since being promoted to High-A Frederick, Gausman is still an option being kicked around and considered perhaps a little ahead of Bundy in his development among some in the organization.

Showalter gets asked about Bundy –in a roundabout way — pretty often, and he smiled yesterday when the topic came up with reporters on Friday saying, “I think I know where you are going and rightfully so.”

Bundy, 19, is 8-3 with a 2.01 ERA in 22 starts with three different affiliates. He has allowed 63 hits, 24 walks and struck out 113 in 98 1/3 innings. The Orioles plan to cap him in the 125-inning range in his first pro season, meaning he would come up as a bullpen guy only. It doesn’t make a lot sense for Bundy, who will get another start at Double-A on Sunday, to be added to the Orioles’ rotation since he wouldn’t be able to be a factor if the O’s do play into October.

The early reports on Bundy at Double-A are that he has held his own and his fastball is Major League-ready, thought he still struggles with command of his offspeed pitches. It’s set up for him to be a weapon for the O’s down the stretch coming out of the bullpen, a role they could monitor his innings in and extend his season, similar to what Tampa Bay did with David Price in 2008.

My question is can a guy with a warmup regimen like Bundy’s –complete with 300-foot long toss from across the field — get ready in time if he’s a reliever?

“We are considering all options,” Showalter said. “I think we’ve got a pretty good idea of what we are going to be considering.”

As a reminder, from September 1 through the end of the regular season, any player on the 40-man is eligible to play in a game as a callup, with no restrictions on roster size. But to be eligible for a team’s playoff roster a player must be on the 25 man active roster or the disabled list as of midnight August 31, meaning Bundy and Gausman –if in the O’s plans — would have to be up by then. Players on bereavement or the suspended list are also eligible, but that doesn’t apply to the Orioles’ current team.

Gauman is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in two starts –thee innings apiece –for Frederick, although the reports on his stuff have been better than the lines indicate. Triple-A Norfolk’s Jake Arrieta –the club’s Opening Day starter — figures to be another September callup, with outfielders Xavier Avery and LJ Hoes pretty strong candidates despite Hoes not being on the 40-man. The Orioles are expected to add a third catcher, perhaps Luis Exposito, making for some more roster shuffling for an O’s club averaging more roster moves than games already this season.

Asked the difference with this year’s September callup philosophy then years past, Showalter said, “I think it changes depending on what situation you are in. there are some guys you would like to expose to it. But I got to tell you most of them are here or have already been here. We’ve done a pretty good job at exposing people this year to the environment and everything. Or a bad job of it. I just think this year they are going to serve a purpose of helping us win. Which is kind of one in the same.”

The starting pitching has been inconsistent this season, and Showalter has been adamant about protecting the bullpen which has been the team’s strength. Don’t underestimate the Orioles’ willingness to stock it with some young, talented arms for the stretch run. The club is also still trying to add a left-handed reliever, with Troy Patton’s ankle sprain recovery moving slowly. Brian Matusz struck out the only batter he faced in his relief debut Friday night, and Zach Phillips is another internal option down below. The O’s are also actively scouring the waiver wire for left-handed relief help.

4 Comments

Britt, isn’t it true that DL players are eligible for the postseason? And that if DL’ed players are not ready to come back, you can substitute them with someone else from the 40-man roster, even if they weren’t on the 25-man roster as of 8/31?

I’m fairly certain this is how Matt Moore (who was a TB September call-up in 2011) was able to pitch in the playoffs last year.

As I noted above, DL’ed players are eligible since they are considered to be on the active roster just hurt. You second question is true only if that player is on the 60-day DL and probably won’t apply to the Orioles. I believe you would also need approval from the Commissioner in that scenario.

Looks like we have an interesting September coming up.

Greg, I’m going to backtrack a little here on my second part of the answer. I did some double-checking and that’s absolutely right. Quite a nice loophole, that would allow guys to come up a few days into Sept and still be eligible. O’s have 9 guys on the DL right now.

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