The Baltimore Orioles would like to bolster their rotation before the trade deadline. They were supposed to be getting a close look at one of the best arms available Tuesday night.
That's no longer the case.
Amid talk that he might be traded, Bud Norris has been scratched from his scheduled start and replaced by Lucas Harrell as the Houston Astros visit the Orioles.
Norris, 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA, figured to be one of the most coveted pitchers leading up to Wednesday's trade deadline. General manager Jeff Luhnow told the Astros' official website the right-hander has attracted "significant interest."
"There's nothing close at this point, but we still have 2 1/2 days to go and still a lot of activity could happen, even though nothing's close," Luhnow said Monday.
Apparently something changed quickly because the team announced Tuesday afternoon that Norris was being pulled off this start but did not provide a reason. A team official said he had not been dealt yet.
The Orioles were considered to be among the teams which might go after Norris. In its chase for a second consecutive postseason appearance, Baltimore (58-48) has been bogged down by a starters' ERA of 4.65 that ranks among baseball's worst.
The Orioles already made one move earlier this month to try to improve that weakness, acquiring Scott Feldman from the Chicago Cubs, but he's 2-2 with a 5.12 ERA in five starts with Baltimore. According to the team's official website, general manager Dan Duquette would like to do more before Wednesday's non-waiver deadline.
Houston shipped off one asset Monday, dealing closer Jose Veras to Detroit for minor league outfielder Danry Vasquez and a player to be named.
The Astros (35-69) have lost 20 of 25 as well as eight of nine to Baltimore, including two of three in Houston from June 4-6.
However, the Orioles have lost five of six after winning four straight to begin the season's second half. The pitching woes have been magnified by an offensive slump, as the club has produced 15 runs in the last six games and is homerless in three of four.
Jason Hammel's losing streak extended to six games in a 5-0 home loss to Boston on Sunday, but the Orioles managed only five hits and were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.
"The big emphasis, what I look at, is we didn't score any runs," manager Buck Showalter said. "We didn't mount much of anything offensively."
Chris Davis is 3 for 22 over his last six games and is homerless in 10 straight, his longest drought of the season, while fellow All-Stars Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy are mired in 4-for-32 and 3-for-22 slumps, respectively. That trio was 0 for 12 on Sunday with Davis striking out three times.
Hardy was 3 for 3 off Norris earlier this year while Davis went 2 for 4.
Baltimore will hand the ball to Wei-Yin Chen (5-3, 2.78), who has remained solid amid the rotation's recent struggles. He's 2-0 in three starts with a 2.18 ERA since returning from a strained oblique.
Harrell (5-10, 5.17) will make his first start since July 5, having been demoted to the bullpen. He's struggled in four relief appearances, giving up eight runs and 15 hits with nine walks in 11 1-3 innings.
The right-hander failed to get through four innings in two of his last three starts and was ripped for seven earned runs in each.
One of Harrell's best performances came against Baltimore on June 4, when he gave up two runs - one earned - in seven innings of a 4-1 defeat.
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