Showalter will use roster rules to O's advantage

Showalter will use roster rules to O's advantage

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles recalled right-hander Mike Wright from Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday, and that gives manager Buck Showalter 12 pitchers for his bullpen.

Showalter has long decried the rules for September, saying that adding up to 15 additional players just isn't right. However, that's not going to stop him from exploiting the 40-man roster limit.

"If the rules are the rules, you're going to take advantage of them," Showalter said. "What do you do? [I'm not going to say]: 'Listen, I don't like it, we're only going to have six or seven [pitchers in the bullpen].'"

In the last six days, the Orioles have added Wright -- who pitched two innings, allowing two runs, in Thursday's game against the Yankees -- as well as right-handers Richard Rodriguez, Jimmy Yacabonis and Gabriel Ynoa in addition to left-hander Donnie Hart, and they moved starter Ubaldo Jimenez into the 'pen.

The bloated bullpen perhaps helped the Orioles win two of their previous three games prior to Thursday's series finale against the Yankees. On Sunday, Chris Tillman went only four innings, and Showalter used six relievers for eight innings in a 12-inning win against the Blue Jays.

Two days later, Jeremy Hellickson went only 2 1/3 innings and six relievers pitched 6 2/3 innings in a 7-6 win over the Yankees.

"Last week, we have made four or five pitching moves with our Triple-A club to cover the innings we had to pitch out of our bullpen," Showalter said.

Showalter said that the Orioles didn't have a seven-man bullpen for the whole season. For the first six weeks of the season, they had a five-man bench and 11 pitchers, and for a time in August, they used six starters and six relievers.

"Now, you've doubled that," Showalter said. "It gives you almost too many. … Sometimes the options can kind of get in the way of good decisions."

When the starters were pitching well, Showalter had to make sure that the Orioles' bullpen mainstays of Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Mychal Givens and Darren O'Day were getting enough work.

During June, when the Orioles allowed five or more runs per game for 25 straight games, they had to make countless moves to solidify the bullpen. Overall, they've used 22 relievers.

"You like the idea of being able to cover some innings, as far as physically, with some guys," Showalter said of the expanded roster. "That's about the extent we like it."

It does change the way the game is played. A left-handed reliever like Hart's strength is minimized because the opponent has several potential pinch-hitters from both sides of the plate.

"Situational guys don't play this time of the year after the seventh inning," Showalter said. "They're too easily negated."

Rich Dubroff is a contributor to MLB.com based in Baltimore and covered the Orioles on Thursday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.