Remember that time when the Orioles were just going to send pitching prospect Hunter Harvey to Double-A Bowie to start the season and leave him alone for a while so that he could build up his innings towards a starter’s workload? That was a fun time. It’s gone now. Facing a short-term bullpen need, the Orioles have recalled Harvey prior to Monday’s game against the Blue Jays.
Harvey had been scheduled to start for Bowie on Monday night anyway, and the team was only going to have him pitch three innings in that start. Now he’s been yanked up to Baltimore. Is this a one day bullpen insurance situation or is it the start of something more?
Why in the heck would they call Harvey up to the Orioles if it’s going to be for one day insurance, messing with the careful plan they claimed to have constructed for him? This move is reminiscent of the times during the dark years when there was absolutely, positively no way the Orioles would call up Brian Matusz or Zach Britton or whoever... at least until someone got hurt and things got desperate enough and then they called those guys up even though maybe they weren’t ready to be in MLB.
Harvey, I probably do not need to remind you, has pitched a total of 31.1 innings since the beginning of the 2016 season and has not, in a professional career dating back to when the Orioles selected him in the first round in 2013, thrown one single pitch at a higher level than Low-A Delmarva.
Calling Harvey up for good is the only thing that would be crazier than calling him up for just one day. The Orioles are probably not calling him up for good, but also, what in the world are they doing calling him up for maybe one day? On the idea of Harvey being a temporary bullpen addition, manager Buck Showalter told Orioles reporters that they will see how it plays out.
One side effect of the roster moves that the Orioles made prior to Opening Day is that they are short on the kind of one day bullpen call-ups they have used in the past. They had to clear space on the 40-man roster in order to add all of Pedro Alvarez, Craig Gentry, Colby Rasmus, and Danny Valencia.
That necessitated moving four players off of the roster, and the Orioles moved four pitchers: Alec Asher, Stefan Crichton, Michael Kelly, and Jesus Liranzo. Only Kelly remains in the organization now. With Jimmy Yacabonis serving in the one day bullpen role on Saturday and Tanner Scott doing the same on Sunday, the Orioles recently chucked several of the non-Harvey choices available to them in this kind of situation.
Scott was optioned back to Norfolk today after pitching 1.2 innings yesterday. Of the other pitchers on the 40-man roster: Chris Lee and Gabriel Ynoa are hurt, David Hess started for Norfolk yesterday, and Yacabonis and Scott are within the 10-day window.
That scratches off everyone except for Yefry Ramirez, Donnie Hart, and Harvey. Ramirez pitched four innings on April 6. Hart is not a multi-inning reliever, so perhaps he’s not much of an option in this panic “We just played 14 innings on Friday night, 12 innings yesterday, and our starter went less than one inning in that 12 inning game yesterday” mode in which the Orioles find themselves.
And that leaves Harvey, I guess. It’s still weird. The Orioles could have probably avoided this scenario if they wanted to, and by virtue of their calling up Harvey we must conclude that they didn’t want to avoid it that badly. Whether this is for one day or for longer, it’s weird and it’s going to result in some second-guessing if things don’t go perfectly from Harvey from this point forward.
Though I’m skeptical of any notion that this roster move was made with a full reckoning of the possible consequences having been considered, I’m excited that Harvey will be in an Orioles uniform for the night and whenever he is needed, I’ll be looking forward to seeing him pitch.