With opening day just a bit over a week away, the Orioles’ starting rotation is just as murky as it was when spring training began. Going into camp, we knew pretty much exactly what we know now: Jeremy Guthrie would be the Opening Day starter, Koji Uehara would hopefully chisel himself out a spot, and the rest was basically a crapshoot, hoping that somebody, ANYBODY would step up and claim those remaining 3 openings.
Well, NOBODY has, in case you haven’t noticed. The O’s famously (or infamously) invited 37 pitchers to Spring Training, and they still can’t hammer out 5 starting pitchers. Let’s take a look at the ineptitude that the bunch has produced so far…
Now, attempt to choose 3 from that mediocrity-defining list, and you certainly don’t envy the position manager Dave Trembley is in. So far this week, he has stated that Pauley and Baez are both out of the running. Bergeson was ruled out as of last weekend. Hill has had some injury issues since he showed up, and hasn’t seen any live action aside from an intrasquad game yesterday, in which he got roughed up to the tune of 3 R, 2 H, 1 BB, and 2 HBP in 2.0 innings.
Penn, Eaton, Hendrickson, Simon, and Bass are the 5 left standing to try to seize one of the 3 openings. This O’s fan would love to see Hayden Penn step up and become the solid major league starter that we all thought he could be back as a 20-year-old wonderkid, before freak injuries and bad luck conspired against him. Penn should be handed one of the starting spots, and given “one last chance” to prove himself, and justify the amount of time and money the O’s have spent on him. If he still can’t perform, then the time will have come to “cut bait” with Hayden.
Adam Eaton is pretty much a joke. When I told “Phillies fan” that the O’s had picked him up, he could barely contain his laughter. Although the Phils are still eating much of his “worst contract in baseball,” the Eaton pick-up still reeks of desperation by the O’s.
The same can be said for Mark Hendrickson, a 7-year veteran who is a sorry 50-63 with a 5.07 ERA in his career.
Alfredo Simon was intriguing, but regressed this week. His chances are looking like slim and none, with slim warming up the car.
The guys that have been paying closer attention to the team this spring than I admittedly have seem to agree that Bass will be in the rotation come the start of the season. Bass, 27, started 4 games for the O’s last summer after coming over from Minnesota. He gave up 21 hits in 14 innings, struck out 13 and had an ERA of 4.71.
As for Guthrie and Uehara, well…let’s just say I’d be a lot more comfortable with those 2 as our #2-3 starters, instead of 1-2. Alas, that is not the orange world in which we live.
Guthrie had an awful go of it representing Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, allowing 6 runs and 14 hits in just 3.2 innings, prompting the O’s to ask Jeremy to come back a little early from the festivities. He wasn’t extremely happy with the team for that, reports indicate, but both sides seem eager to move forward and get JG ready for the Yankees on April 6. Let’s hope they can do just that, as Guthrie is the ONLY established, consistent MLB starter on this roster.
Uehara has been promisingly solid in the ST games, striking out 12 while walking only 3 in just 7.2 innings of work in his 3 starts.
On the bright side, the O’s look to be very solid out of the bullpen once again. Chris Ray’s return has been very impressive, as he is yet to allow a single run in his 8.1 innings this Spring. If Jim Johnson and George Sherrill can regain their 2008 forms, innings 7, 8, and 9 could be lights out in Baltimore.
However, you have to get through those first 7 innings. As good as the bullpen has the potential to be, it looks like there is just as much potential for them to be worn out by Memorial Day, unless some competent starting arms emerge.
I hope I’m not coming across as “too negative,” as some O’s fans tend to label anybody who is critical of the team. Don’t get me wrong; I am just as excited about the offensive potential of this team moving forward as the drunkest orange kool-aid connoisseur.
Markakais, Jones, and Weiters? Sounds great to me.
But until the “cavalry” (as some have labeled them) of Matusz, Arrieta, and Tillman arrive, who is going to pitch for this team? There were plenty of proven veteran free agent starters on the market this winter, and I can’t for the life of me understand how the O’s settled on Adam Eaton and Mark Hendrickson over, say, Derek Lowe and John Garland.
Anyway, like the rest of you, I’m going to be watching – hoping (but not hopeful) for the best.