Armstrong DFA'd; Hunter Harvey reinstated

Six other players involved in Baltimore's transactions Friday

June 5th, 2021

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles shook up their bullpen amid a slew of roster moves prior to Friday's 3-1 win over the Indians, reinstating Hunter Harvey from the 60-day injured list and designating Shawn Armstrong and Brandon Waddell for assignment.

The club also recalled righty Travis Lakins Sr. and infielder Ramón Urias from Triple-A Norfolk, placed Pat Valaika on the bereavement list and claimed infielder Domingo Leyba on outright waivers from the D-backs. Additionally, Baltimore optioned rookie lefty Zac Lowther to Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday.

The most notable departure is Armstrong, one of the more durable and highly-used relievers of Baltimore’s rebuild to date. Only one Oriole reliever -- Paul Fry -- has made more appearances than Armstrong’s 85 over the past three years. The right-hander pitched to a 5.34 ERA in those outings, including an 8.55 ERA this season.

“He got off to an odd start, and just kind of never got going,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “That was a tough conversation, because he is someone who’s been here a few years and pitched a lot of innings for us.”

The Armstrong move comes independent of Harvey, who allowed one run in an inning of work Friday in his first big league appearance since last September. 

Harvey, now 26, missed the season’s first two months due to a left oblique strain suffered in Spring Training. It was the latest in a long list of maladies to befall Harvey, who missed big chunks of five Minor League seasons to arm trouble after becoming the Orioles' first-round Draft pick in 2013. The hard-throwing righty has made 18 big league appearances since debuting in 2019, pitching to a 3.38 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 16 innings.

Harvey made four rehab appearances at Triple-A Norfolk prior to his activation Friday, stretching out to 1 2/3 innings in his final appearance June 1. He’s been handled carefully in the Majors, making just one career appearance of longer than three outs. He’s also pitched on back-to-back days exactly once at the big league level.

“I’m going to use him like a regular piece in the bullpen,” Hyde said. “It’s been a tough few years for him trying to stay healthy, but I want to see what this guy has.”

Said Harvey: “We're taking the training wheels off … I’m not getting any younger. There is no point in waiting around. It’s time to go. There is not enough time to keep babying it every year.”

Harvey returns to an Orioles bullpen ripe with opportunity, giving Hyde a dynamic new late-inning option. Baltimore’s ‘pen went from one of the Majors best in April to one of its worst in May, falling victim to severe regression from César Valdez, Adam Plutko and a host of others. Valdez is out as the closer, with Fry (1.99 ERA, 33 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings) earning his first save in that role (and second on the season) Friday. It’s not difficult seeing Harvey serving as a useful right-handed complement if he can stay healthy, given his upper-90s fastball and potentially wipeout curve and splitter.

“I want to see if he can pitch in big spots,” Hyde said. “I love the arm, like the makeup and I’d like to find out about him.”