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Orioles promote Povich for major league debut in Toronto, option Vespi to Norfolk

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The Orioles officially promoted left-handed pitcher Cade Povich to make his major league debut on Thursday, but the corresponding roster move did not involve right-hander Kyle Bradish.

You hope that’s a good sign for a starting rotation that’s endured more than enough injury woes in recent weeks. Baltimore optioned lefty reliever Nick Vespi to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for Povich, who arrived in Toronto on Wednesday to prepare to start the series finale against the Blue Jays. The Orioles already had an open spot on the 40-man roster.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, manager Brandon Hyde was noncommittal about Bradish’s status for the four-game road series against Tampa Bay this weekend, leading some to wonder if there was a health concern that might land him on the injured list. The 27-year-old is coming off his worst start of the season last Saturday when he allowed five earned runs and lasted just 2 2/3 innings. Prior to that, Bradish was sensational over seven no-hit innings against the Chicago White Sox on May 26. He threw a season-high 103 pitches in that outing, which was the only time Bradish has pitched on the regular four days of rest since making his season debut on May 2.

Bradish was diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in January, so you can certainly understand the organization wanting to be cautious with the ace of last year’s rotation.

The Orioles are in the midst of a stretch that includes just one off-day between now and the end of June, but designs for a six-man rotation have been hindered by the season-ending loss of veteran lefty John Means and a triceps strain to right-hander Dean Kremer, who is expected to return from the IL later this month. Baltimore also lost right-hander Tyler Wells to a season-ending elbow injury in April.

Ranked as Baltimore’s ninth-best prospect by MLB.com, Povich, 24, came in at 99th on the latest top 100 overall prospect list released by Baseball America earlier this week. His fastball sits in the low 90s, and he also features a changeup, sweeper, curveball, and cutter. 

One of four pitchers — 2023 All-Star reliever Yennier Cano also among them — acquired from Minnesota in exchange for former All-Star closer Jorge Lopez at the trade deadline two years ago, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Povich had been on the radar for a major league call-up after his strong start with the Tides. In 11 starts covering 56 2/3 innings this season, Povich pitched to a 3.18 ERA while averaging 11.9 strikeouts and 3.3 walks per nine innings. The 2021 third-round selection out of the University of Nebraska made his Triple-A debut last season, posting a 5.36 ERA over 10 starts and an improved 2.91 mark over his final four outings in September.   

“Cade is definitely a guy who’s on the tip of our tongues right now,” general manager Mike Elias said last week. “He’s having a tremendous season in Triple-A. … We’re watching every little thing he does, and as we enter this stretch now with all of these games coming up with no off-days, we’ve had internal dialogue about six-man [rotations] for stretches and things like that. He’s put himself in position for that type of consideration, and it’s something that’s become kind of a daily conversation for us.” 

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