On Monday, the Orioles were curiously vague about the starting rotation for the remainder of the week, listing the starters for Wednesday afternoon vs. the Tigers and Thursday night vs. the Royals as To Be Announced. Those games fall on the turns of Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, respectively. Was there some mystery injury? Both pitched seven innings the last time out. The why is not yet known. What we do know is that the Orioles announced Tuesday afternoon that Kevin Gausman will start Wednesday afternoon's game.
Gausman recently spent some time on the disabled list with a particularly nasty case of pneumonia. This was the illness that somehow manifest itself in a way that they initially diagnosed him with an intercostal strain. He has made one start since he was activated, which came on Saturday. This is curious in that a start on Wednesday afternoon would be short rest for Gausman. He's been limited to 75 pitches for most of the season so far, including his last start, so that could mean he needs less rest to get ready for Wednesday.
Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun offered the speculation that the Orioles might push Chen back to Wednesday because the right-handed-loaded Tigers have been crushing lefties, whereas the Royals have not performed well against lefties. A cursory glance at the team-wide platoon splits bears this out. Detroit is batting .293/.341/.468 against lefties. That's the second-best OPS in the AL. Kansas City bats .239/.301/.324, which is the second-worst OPS in the AL.
Is that a good enough reason to upend the starting rotation, calling up a top prospect to start a game on short rest? If the O's have been planning to call up Gausman around this time for a while, then it could be a matter of trying to get him into the most favorable situation for his first game. However, if that was the case, then Kansas City might still be the best bet: they don't hit righties very well either, batting only .264/.311/.378 so far this season.
If no one is headed to the disabled list, that means someone will have to be removed from the roster for Gausman. Would Gonzalez be kicked to the bullpen, either temporarily or permanently? If so, that probably signals some reliever would be sent down. Gonzalez has the highest ERA of the starters so far and the O's are the least invested in him.
Is Gausman staying up for good? If not, why bother throwing the rotation into chaos for just a spot start?
So far it's all a mystery. One thing we do know is Gausmania is coming back to Camden Yards for Wednesday's game. Better luck this time around.