The Orioles made a flurry of anticipated moves before and during Thursday's doubleheader, optioning Steve Lombardozzi and outrighting Josh Stinson to make room for Manny Machado and Troy Patton to rejoin the club. Now, after using seemingly every relief arm in both halves of a doubleheader, the club has made another, sending struggling reliever Evan Meek to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for a fresh arm as the club starts up a fresh series against Minnesota on the road.
Evan Meek was a nice low-risk/high-reward Dan Duquette signing, a former all-star closer who'd been out of the majors for a couple years. He had a nice spring, and he started the season in Baltimore, getting some effective results even while allowing more baserunners than you'd like. But the wheels really came off in the last week, with Meek allowing 9 ER in 2.1 IP. That just won't fly, so Dan Duquette took out his trusty Greyhound punchcard and got the Norfolk Express fired up.
Speculation abounds on who the Orioles will call up to replace Meek. The Sun lists several potential candidates, ranging from Preston Guilmet to Suk-Min Yoon to Tim Berry. Brad Brach would probably have been first in line had he not pitched for Norfolk on Thursday. Since the Orioles probably want Yoon to make his way up for good at some point, my money would be on Guilmet or Berry joining the club tonight, with a non-zero chance that they're flipped right around to be replaced by Brach for Saturday or Sunday's game, particularly if the bullpen needs to eat three or more innings tonight.
The bullpen ended up pitching nine innings in last night's twinbill. If Orioles starters can't start turning in six- and seven-inning performances with more regularity, you can expect the bullpen swirl to continue. You can also expect problems for the Orioles in general, even if the team got two wins out of last night's abbreviated starts.
UPDATE: Roch Kubatko has confirmed that the Orioles will call up Brad Brach from AAA Norfolk before tonight's game in Minnesota. It was speculated they wouldn't go to Brach because he just pitched last night for the Tides, throwing 16 pitches in his one inning pitched. So much for speculation.