The Orioles announced a series of roster moves prior to tonight’s game with the Astros, including the news that right-hander Travis Lakins Sr. is heading to the 10-day injured list due to right elbow pain. Additionally, infielder Stevie Wilkerson has been designated for assignment and left-handed Alexander Wells was optioned to Triple-A. Filling the spots on the active roster will be right-handers Isaac Mattson and Spenser Watkins — Mattson was called up from Triple-A, while Watkins’ contract was selected. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported earlier today that Watkins would be added to Baltimore’s 26-man roster.
Lakins was making a rare appearance as a starting pitcher last night when his elbow issue forced him out of the game ( a 13-3 Orioles victory over the Astros) after 1 2/3 innings. O’s manager Brandon Hyde specified to The Baltimore Sun’s Jon Meoli and other reporters that Lakins suffered an elbow strain, and the righty will undergo further evaluation. This isn’t Lakins’ first time dealing with elbow problems, as inflammation cut short his 2016 season while pitching in the Red Sox minor league system.
Baltimore claimed Lakins off waivers from the Cubs in the 2019-20 offseason, and the right-hander had a solid 2.81 ERA over 25 2/3 relief innings for the Orioles last year. Things haven’t gone as smoothly this season, however, as Lakins has a 5.79 ERA and 13.8% walk rate over 28 innings of work in 2021.
With the O’s still in need of some rotation help while John Means is on the IL, it could open the door for Watkins to get a look in the starting five as he gets his first taste of the big leagues. A 30th-round pick for the Tigers in 2014, Watkins pitched well at the lower levels of Detroit’s farm system but had some struggles at Double-A and Triple-A. This almost led him to walk away from the game, as Nightengale notes that Watkins had a high school coaching job lined up before he signed a minor league deal with the Orioles this winter.
Wilkerson was another offseason minors signing for the O’s, and the utilityman appeared in 30 games for the team, hitting only .167/.211/.208 over 76 plate appearances. Wilkerson didn’t see any big league action in 2020, and he has a career .210/.268/.340 slash line in 486 PA over parts of three seasons with Baltimore.