As the Saturday afternoon game with the St. Louis Cardinals approached, everyone knew that someone had to be taken off the Baltimore Orioles roster to make room for starter Ubaldo Jimenez.
I was certainly not alone in betting that it was going to be T.J. McFarland, but it turns out to be Miguel Gonzalez instead. Apparently the reasoning is that Showalter does not want pitchers shuffling between the bullpen and starting (according to this report from Roch Kubatko).
I have to say that I don’t “get” this move, nor do I understand that the shuffle would be so difficult for Gonzalez. Really? Pitching a game at AAA is not more upsetting to a schedule than remaining with the team in Baltimore and pitching relief?
Gonzo has had some ups and downs, but overall his recent starts have been quite good. I could see him as a multi-inning reliever, and even wrote about that over a month ago as a workable move.
Over his past six starts, Gonzalez has pitched to an ERA of 2.43, and the Orioles have won four of the six games. Opponents have batted .229 over 41 innings – not bad.
Here is another consideration: the Yankees are the next team in town. In nine starts against them, Gonzalez is 2-2 with a 3.81 ERA. No, that’s not lights out. But his WHIP is 1.129 over those 56 innings, and that is difficult to beat.
McFarland has not pitched poorly at all, and has a 3.18 ERA, including 5.1 scoreless innings against the Yankees.
But still, I would have sent McFarland down – given the other three lefties available in the pen – and kept Gonzalez and used him for multiple innings in multiple games.
This may well work out; that would not be a shock at all. Gonzalez will be back quite soon. But it puts the pressure even more on Jimenez to not implode today against the Cardinals.