Jason Hammel on track to make rehab start Saturday

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Jason Hammel required arthroscopic surgery last month to removed a piece of loose cartilage from his right knee, but he’s inching closer to rejoining the Orioles’ rotation.

According to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, Hammel threw 58 pitches earlier today in his second simulated game. He’s currently on track to make a minor league rehab start on Saturday, likely with High-A Frederick. If all goes well, he could rejoin the Orioles’ rotation on September 6 against the Yankees, though he would likely be limited to around six innings in his first start back.

Hammel was enjoying his best season in the big leagues prior to the surgery, compiling a 3.54 ERA and 106/39 K/BB ratio over 109 1/3 innings in 18 starts.

Report: Orioles interested in Lance Lynn

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The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.

Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.

Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.