‘Hopefully he sticks in the rotation’ – The Denver Post

Last Updated on July 17, 2023 by Admin



Grayson Rodriguez is back.

The Orioles’ top pitching prospect will be recalled from Triple-A to start Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, manager Brandon Hyde said Sunday. The corresponding move will be announced at a later time.

Hyde said he was “very pleased” with the progress Rodriguez made in the minors after he was demoted in late May. The 23-year-old struggled with a 7.35 ERA in his first 10 big league starts, but he returned to dominant form with Triple-A Norfolk.

In seven starts with the Tides since his demotion, Rodriguez posted a 1.69 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings — similarly impressive numbers to the ones he put up throughout his minor league career.

His marching orders when he was sent down were to improve the command on his mid-to-high 90s mph fastball. Hyde said he’s achieved that.

“The reports have been awesome with how the command has improved,” Hyde said before Sunday’s game versus the Miami Marlins. “The stuff has always been there, it’s just all about command with him. He’s throwing the ball extremely well with command down in Triple-A, and we’re excited for him to start tomorrow.”

Whether he sticks in the Orioles’ rotation for the remainder of the season remains to be seen, but Hyde made clear what the club’s hope is for their young fireballer.

“I think we’re in the mindset of winning games right now, and hopefully he sticks in the rotation for the rest of the summer,” Hyde said.

From the very beginning, Rodriguez’s rookie campaign hasn’t gone as expected. The 6-foot-5 right-hander was expected to open the season in Baltimore’s rotation, but he struggled in spring training and was beaten out by Tyler Wells, who has been the Orioles’ top starting pitcher through the first half.

But it took less than a week for Rodriguez to make his MLB debut, as an injury to starter Kyle Bradish made way for the Orioles’ No. 3 prospect who Baseball America ranks as the 15th-best prospect in the sport. He was solid in April with a 4.07 ERA, but was battered in May, allowing 35 hits and 27 runs in 21 innings to balloon his ERA above 7.00 and his WHIP to 1.743.

Three of his May starts were perplexingly bad, causing Rodriguez and the Orioles to suspect he was tipping his pitches. He made a change to his mechanics out of the stretch position and had a successful start against the Toronto Blue Jays, but he then allowed nine runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Texas Rangers in late May. He was demoted the next day.

Back in Triple-A, a level Rodriguez dominated last year, he struck out 10-plus batters in three of his seven starts. In his past 15 innings, he’s allowed just eight hits and four walks.

“I think the message was pretty clear on when he went down, the reasons why and what we felt like he needed to work on,” Hyde said. “I think out of the gate down there wasn’t as smooth, but these last few starts there have been really good. They’ve done a nice job of kind of applying what we talked about up here before he went down, so we feel comfortable where he is right now, and hopefully, he can impact us positively the rest of the year.”

His first assignment is a challenging one, as the only team in baseball as hot as the Orioles, who entered Sunday on a seven-game winning streak, are the National League West-leading Dodgers, who extended their winning streak to six games Saturday.

While Rodriguez’s status as a top prospect, his tantalizing potential and his recent success in Triple-A all earned him another shot in the big leagues, it results in Cole Irvin, who has recently been a consistent starter, moving to the bullpen. Irvin’s poor performance early in the season is why Rodriguez remained in the rotation, and the left-hander was the one who replaced Rodriguez when he was optioned to Triple-A. In his five starts since, Irvin has posted a 2.66 ERA, including back-to-back one-run outings in Orioles wins.

Hyde provides injury updates

Center fielder Cedric Mullins, who left Saturday’s game in the second inning with right quadriceps tightness, is “day to day,” Hyde said. It doesn’t appear the injury is serious enough to land Mullins on the injured list.

“He’ll get treatment today,” Hyde said. “We feel like we got lucky a little bit … and hopefully caught it at the right time where he’s not going to have to miss too much time.”

The lower-body injury is Mullins’ second this season, as the 28-year-old speedster missed most of June with a right groin strain. He struggled upon his return, but began to turn a corner, homering and stealing a base for the first time since his return Friday and roping an RBI single in his first at-bat Saturday.

“This obviously is not as severe as [the groin injury],” Hyde said. “I think we caught both things at the right time where it could’ve been a lot worse and we got fortunate.”

Aaron Hicks was originally slated to patrol center field in Mullins’ absence Sunday, but he was scratched from the lineup after he “woke up with some lower back soreness,” Hyde said. The move to sit Hicks was made “out of precaution.”

Rodriguez might not be the only pitcher rejoining the Orioles early this week. Left-hander Cionel Pérez pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings Saturday in his first minor league rehabilitation outing with Double-A Bowie. Hyde said the club is still determining whether Pérez needs another rehab outing or if he can return to Baltimore’s bullpen.

Pérez said he isn’t feeling soreness in his left forearm anymore and that he “felt really good” in his hitless outing Saturday. He was one of the Orioles’ top relievers in 2022, but he’s struggled for much of 2023. Prior to landing on the IL, Pérez was in the midst of his best stretch of the season with six straight scoreless innings.

“It definitely was a little bit difficult, just because I was starting to get into a good rhythm and you start to see all the hard work paying off,” Pérez said through team interpreter Brandon Quinones. “We continue to go forward and I feel like I’m right back there.



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