Monday, March 11, 2013
The Orioles' projected rotation
By Jason Catania
The Baltimore Orioles' have quite the laundry list of rotation candidates, particularly when it comes down to the final spot.
Earlier in the winter, MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko took a shot at laying out the O's projected rotation: Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman appear to be locks, but the No. 5 job remains up for grabs.
The primary options seem to be Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz and Zach Britton, with veteran Jair Jurrjens, rookie Steve Johnson and Tsuyoshi Wada -- last winter's other Far East import (with Chen) who missed the season due to Tommy John surgery -- also in the mix.
There's been talk, however, of Arrieta and/or Britton as trade bait, and Jurrjens is still struggling with his mechanics due to lingering issues from his right knee, according to the Washington Post's Eduardo Encina.
Of course, veteran Kyle Lohse, who has been linked to the O's plenty this offseason, still is a free agent and could solidify things, but the club has indicated such a signing isn't likely.
The other thing to remember? The O's have an ace in their pocket in 2011 first-rounder Dylan Bundy, who is all of 20 years old and expected to start the year at Double- or Triple-A after making his brief MLB debut at the end of 2012. He's the top pitching prospect in baseball, and the team's eventual ace, so once he's ready -- perhaps around the All-Star break? -- Bundy won't be held back or blocked out by anyone.
FanGraphs' Mike Petriello, writing for ESPN Insider, thinks there may be more to Arrieta than what he's shown so far:
Mike PetrielloArrieta's upside
"It may seem odd to say about a pitcher coming off a 6.20 ERA season, but Arrieta might be the most likely of this group to come alive and provide value. In his age-26 campaign, he increased his strikeout rate to 8.56 per nine innings while also lowering his walk rate to 2.75 per nine, good numbers that continued the steps forward he'd made there in 2011. The resulting 3.11 strikeout-to-walk ratio was better than successful starters like Dempster, Matt Garza, Jackson, Mat Latos and Brandon McCarthy, and the upward trend in that metric is generally a good indicator of a pitcher doing something right."