Tuesday, March 08, 2011

My Long Overdue Orioles Outlook - Pitchers Edition

The pitching staff did not go through the major overhaul that the position players did. The bullpen is going to be different but in the grand scheme of things that is not a bad thing, and if the starting rotation can follow up on the promise of the last 2 months of the season it will be a very minor thing.

The biggest change is the lack of Kevin Millwood, a guy you really have to feel sorry for. He gets traded from the eventual AL champs to go mentor a bunch of baby faced curveball junkies

At least it wasn't the bus leagues where he'd have to hold the flavor of the month's...let's move on.

He came in, did his job for a team that scored about 3 runs total in his first 15 starts, and now he is damaged goods that can't find a team to take a chance on him (I really thought the Cardinals would give him a call after Adam Wainwright went down, but nope). I hope for his sake that someone picks him up, maybe like the Phillies did with Pedro Martinez for the stretch run in 2009.

Instead the team will go with a rotation of:
  • Jeremy "Oh look, it's CC Sabathia again" Guthrie
  • Brian "If I win 15 games I get to stay out past curfew" Matusz
  • Brad "I'm only giving you one take this time" Bergesen
  • Jake "My last name kind of sounds like the scientific term for a nipple" Arrieta
and the last man standing in the epic battle royale that is:
  • Chris "I'm worth at least one fifth of Erik Bedard" Tillman
  • Zach "Once I'm in the majors the minor leagues are pretty much empty" Britton
  • Rick "I sound like I should be a member of Skull and Bones" VandenHurk
  • Justin "Prozac and Doan's for breakfast" Duchscherer

If all things are equal, Duchscherer will be the last starter (probably the 2 or 3, with Bergesen and Arrieta in the 4 and 5 slots), VandenHurk will be in the bullpen, and Tillman and Britton will be in Norfolk getting better and being ready in the case of injury / ineffectiveness in one of the starters.

The biggest question mark is Duchscherer. He has only pitched 28 innings over the last 2 years due to back injuries and clinical depression, but he has been good when he has pitched (career WHIP of 1.137). Guthrie is not a true #1 pitcher, but he is the best option right now, at least until Matusz is ready. Britton and Tillman aim to make it hard for the O's to send them to VA, but getting some more seasoning is best for them and for the team (which I am now calling getting "Reimolded"). If this team is going to take the next step in the rebuilding plan, the starting pitching is going to take them there.

The bullpen is pretty set, with the biggest battle over the closer's slot. As it stands now the bullpen consists of:
  • Koji "My interpreter is quite fluent in 15 day disabled list" Uehara
  • Kevin "It's better than Toronto" Gregg
  • Jason "I still think I can be a starter" Berken
  • Michael "How's my velocity NOW?!?" Gonzalez
  • Jim "Don Aase Jr." Johnson
  • and an arm or two out of a crowded field of mediocrity
Since Uehara is already injured, the closer battle is probably going to come down to Gregg vs. Gonzalez. If I were a betting man I would look to Gregg to get the nod. Everyone is saying that he was not promised the closer's role as a contingent to him signing with the team, but a nod and a wink are not a guarantee, are they? Johnson and Berken are best suited to middle relief, with the aforementioned VandenHurk going as the long reliever. It should shake out to be a solid bullpen, and really that should be enough.

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