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Orioles select contract of Tom Eshelman, who will start tonight’s game

If you’ve never heard of Tom Eshelman, that’s OK. He’s going to start for the Orioles on Monday anyway.

MLB: MAR 13 Spring Training - Rays at Phillies
Tom Eshelman in action in spring training.
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There’s nothing that screams a starting rotation that’s in flux quite like calling up a starting pitcher who wasn’t even in the organization a month ago. Monday’s flurry of roster activity brings just such a pitcher up to the major league team to start Monday’s game in right-hander Tom Eshelman, who had his contract selected from Norfolk this afternoon.

Eshelman, who just turned 25, was originally a second round pick by the Astros in the 2015 draft. Note a past Mike Elias connection there. The Astros shipped Eshelman along with a number of other players to the Phillies in a December 2015 trade that brought Ken Giles from Philly to Houston.

Despite a successful 2017 minor league season that saw Eshelman start 23 games, mostly with Triple-A, with a combined 2.40 ERA and 0.973 WHIP in 150 innings, he never cracked the Phillies rotation picture and fell out of favor after struggling in 2018. Despite some modest success at Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season, the Phillies traded him to the Orioles for a last scrap of the last signing period’s international bonus slots in early June.

Since joining the O’s organization, Eshelman started three games for the Tides. He’s posted a 4.05 ERA in those three games, with 11 strikeouts, six walks, and four home runs allowed in 20 innings. He was scratched from a Sunday start, which was the sign that he might be coming up to start on Monday.

The three games with Norfolk are a small sample size. Even that small sample size probably makes him the best candidate down there to be the next guy up into the breach of this hopeless Orioles season. So here Eshelman is. Maybe he’ll pitch well enough to stick for a bit.

Eshelman takes the 40-man roster spot of Josh Rogers, who was transferred to the 60-day injured list after it’s been confirmed that he needs elbow surgery and is out for the year. The Orioles already made a spot on the 25-man roster by optioning Tanner Scott following Sunday’s loss to the Indians.

This may not be the last crazy Orioles rotation thing to happen this week. Dylan Bundy is no longer listed for his scheduled Tuesday start. As of this writing, there’s been no reason given for that.

The O’s snuck in a minor depth move into this Monday roster shuffling as well. They acquired Triple-A pitcher Asher Wojciechowski from the Indians for cash considerations. He has been assigned to Norfolk. The 30-year-old Wojciechowski was with the Tides for part of last season.

Wojciechowski has appeared in MLB in the 2015 and 2017 seasons, and was pitching to a 3.61 ERA for Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate in Columbus before this acquisition. That probably makes him a better “in case of emergency, break glass” option than some of those guys who have been bumming around the Norfolk rotation already. Baseball Reference says it’s pronounced “wo-juh-HOW-ski.”