With Brian Matusz coming back Wednesday and a few off days coming up, the Orioles shipped out both Brad Bergesen and Chris Tillman on Sunday and will go with a four-man rotation for now.
Bergesen, who had the highest ERA of the Orioles’ five starters this year, was the obvious choice to go to make room for Matusz. He was 1-6 with a 5.36 ERA in nine starts and one relief appearance. He actually pitched his first career shutout against the Rays just two weeks ago, but the Orioles had lost his eight other starts this season.
Tillman’s departure is a surprise. He had a 1.33 ERA in his last four starts, though it’s worth noting that he pitched a total of 20 1/3 innings in those games. For the season, he was 2-3 with a 4.69 ERA in 10 starts.
The Orioles don’t have anyone in Triple-A worthy of an opportunity — Norfolk’s only starter with a sub-5.00 ERA is veteran lefty Chris George and he’s at 4.66 — so odds are that Tillman will return as soon as the team goes back to five starters.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.
According to an official team announcement, the Nationals have acquired catcher Derek Norris from the Padres in exchange for right-hander Pedro Avila.
Norris, 27, batted a career-low .186/.225/.328 in 458 PA with the Padres in 2016. He hit career highs with 14 home runs and nine stolen bases, but his dismal production rate through the second half of the season spelled the end of his time in a starting role in San Diego. Norris’ departure from the Padres also confirms 24-year-old Austin Hedges‘ spot on the roster, as reported by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell:
Heading to San Diego is 19-year-old right-handed starter Pedro Avila, who was acquired by the Nationals as an international free agent in 2014. The 19-year-old spent his first season in Single-A Hagerstown and went 7-7 with a 3.48 ERA and 2.42 K/BB rate in 93 innings.