Did you blink during yesterday's game? If you did, then you missed the tenure of Mike Belfiore in the bullpen. Belfiore was called up for extra relief help just in case during Sunday's game, and despite the fact that it was a 6-0 game that the starter left after five innings, he was not used. He has been optioned once again, the latest spin of the Dan Duquette roster wheel. Back to Norfolk with you, Mike.
Belfiore was acquired from the Diamondbacks for Josh Bell. He's 24, throws with his left hand, and has not exactly impressed with a 5.52 ERA in 14.2 IP for the Tides so far this season. But he was on the 40-man roster and had a pulse yesterday, so into the bullpen he went. What would it have taken for a disaster scenario for Belfiore to make his major league debut in the game? A 10-run deficit? A 10-run lead? We will never know.
A more interesting question will be the corresponding roster move for tomorrow's game. The bullpen still seems to need a little reinforcement, but who is the ideal candidate? This is your complete list of minor league pitchers on the 40-man: Jake Arrieta, Mike Belfiore, Zach Britton, Dylan Bundy, Alex Burnett, Steve Johnson, Josh Stinson.
Belfiore has just been optioned, and Burnett and Johnson were both optioned within the last ten days, meaning they're ineligible to return unless a player goes on the disabled list. Bundy is shut down. One of the other players returning could be a possibility as Wei-Yin Chen is expected to be placed on the disabled list on Tuesday due to his right oblique strain. Duquette told reporters that he was a "DL candidate", which seemed to be more than just a candidate when he indicated he expected it would take Chen at least a couple of weeks to return.
Arrieta's been mentioned in the same sentence as "shoulder tenderness", which a Roch Kubatko article described as being "a concern to some in the organization, but not at a high level," and that could either mean Duquette doesn't think Arrieta is very hurt or Duquette is so over Arrieta as a pitcher that it doesn't really matter what is the status of his throwing shoulder.
Britton, managing to walk 12 batters in 24 AAA innings, should not gladden anyone as a potential recall target. Then again, neither should Stinson. Or Johnson. Then, if you want to get really complicated, we can start thinking about a player like Brian Roberts being transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room for a non-40-man pitcher like Jair Jurrjens, Adam Russell, or Jairo Asencio.
So the Orioles could throw one or two darts at the dartboard and end up with some of these names, at least one of whom will probably just sit in the bullpen for a few days, not pitch except in a blowout, and get a great story to tell his kids and grandkids. Unless it's someone who's been in the big leagues before, and then maybe two days of sitting in an Orioles uniform and never playing is not the most exciting thing. But man, wouldn't it be cool to be a major league player for two days, or even just one?
Duquette may also troll us and call up a bench player for a few days, because the off day today and an off day Thursday means that you can exist with a short rotation and a bullpen of the usual size. So we might add Russ Canzler or Danny Valencia to the dartboard. It's all very confusing and probably won't matter at all. Stay tuned.