Each day moves us closer to September and on Sept. 1, the Major League Baseball rosters expand to 40 men.
One group of individuals that might be counting down the days until Sept. 1 is the Baltimore Orioles bullpen. In the month of August the Orioles bullpen has pitched 47 innings and earlier in the week the fatigue was becoming pretty apparent.
The Orioles were not only asking themselves, “What to do about closer Jim Johnson?” — Who blew three saves in three opportunities last week — but when Wednesday’s game reached the 15th inning, the O’s were asking, “Who can pitch now?” They ended up calling on starting pitcher Bud Norris who would lose the game.
The good news is help is on the way; the bad news is it’s still two weeks away.
When September finally rolls around the Orioles can call-up reinforcements for their over taxed bullpen. This weekend they resorted to sending down Henry Urrutia to Triple-A Norfolk and calling up right-hander John Stinson. In the final two games of the Colorado Rockies series, Stinson pitched 2.1 scoreless innings and allowed one hit in each appearance. Stinson was optioned back to the Norfolk Tides after Sunday’s win.
Another Tide waiting to roll in to Baltimore (pardon the pun) is Adam Russell.
Russell is a towering figure, standing at six-foot, eight-inches tall who has major league experience. He has appeared in 38 games for Norfolk this year, racking up 57 innings pitched along the way.
The 28-year-old Russell last pitched in the majors in 2011 with the Tampa Bay Rays, prior to that he spent time with the San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox. This year in Triple-A he is 3-3 with a 2.53 ERA. Opponents are batting .225 against him, but he has only allowed two home runs — a category the Orioles lead the major leagues in (156).
When September call-ups are announced, the Orioles will assuredly bolster the bullpen for the final month of the regular season. Don’t be surprised if Russell makes his return to the majors in the process.