A lot has been said about the Orioles “cavalry” of young pitchers. Well the talk is over, now it is time to see which pitcher will live up to the hype and which will join the long list of failed Orioles prospects. Now that Zach Britton has made his major league debut, every member of the Orioles “cavalry” has seen big league action. Fans will soon find out which members of the cavalry, if any, will join Sidney Ponson, Daniel Cabrera, Matt Riley and the rest of the Orioles failed pitching prospects.
If you are judging the cavalry based on how they have performed since Buck Showalter has been here then you are pretty excited about the Orioles future. It goes without saying how important a great pitching staff is to success in the major leagues. If the cavalry lives up to the hype then the Orioles could have a winning team for years to come. If they fail, the Orioles will be set back another 5 to 10 years waiting for another rebuilding process to come to fruition.
I see the cavalry as Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman, and Brad Bergesen. I still include Bergesen despite the fact that he isn’t considered a potential top of the rotation starter and was never considered a top prospect. Despite last night’s poor start and his inconsistent performance at the majors so far, I think Bergesen deserves to be considered a part of the cavalry. He is young and has shown he has the guts to pitch against the best lineups in the AL East when he is on his game. Chances are he won’t be any better than a fourth or fifth starter, but if the rest of the cavalry reaches their potential than that is all the Orioles will need from him.
What I want to know from you Birds Watcher’s out there (yes I tried to cleverly use the name of the blog to describe you the readers), is which of the cavalry is the best? Which young starter will be the Orioles ace three years from now when the Orioles are playing in the playoffs? Before the season began I would have said Brian Matusz. The lefty has great stuff but seems to have the command and poise of an ace. Matusz seems to have that “it” factor that always eluded other Orioles pitching prospects. However, after watching Zach Britton make his first major league start the other day, I have to say Britton has the brightest future.
Not only is Britton a left handed starter who can throw in the mid 90’s, but he has nasty movement on his fastball. Britton has a sinker that he throws that has so much late movement you can see him dominating hitters for years to come. Britton also has already shown great poise and a bulldog mentality that is needed for the ace of a pitching staff.
Tillman and Arrieta are similar in their positives and negatives. Both are right handed starters with great stuff, but poor command. These guys have shown glimpses at the major league level that they can be great top of the rotation starters. Arrieta reminds me a lot of A.J. Burnett with his mid to upper 90’s fastball and inconsistent command. Tillman is more of wild card. He needs to improve his command, but he also needs to figure out his stuff as well. Based on Tillman’s first start of the season and a few starts from last season, it is clear Tillman can be unhittable. On the other hand, it seems at times his fastball is too straight and also way too hittable. Not sure which starter he will turn into, but the potential is definitely there. Don’t forget Tillman is also the youngest of the cavalry and may need the most time.
Keep in mind the oldest members of the cavalry are Arrieta and Bergesen who are still only 25 years old. Arguably the top two young pitching stars in baseball right now are Felix Hernandez and Tim Lincecum who are 25 and 26 years old. Granted they have been dominant for a couple years now, but you have to think the best is yet to come for the Orioles cavalry. Tillman is only 22, Britton is 23, and Matusz is 24. These guys are still very young and should all peak around the same time….that is if they ever peak.
The future of the Orioles will depend on how many, if any, of the Orioles cavalry reaches their full potential. If they all reach their full potential the Orioles could have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Matusz, Britton, Arrieta, and Tillman all have top of the rotation potential. My question to you is which pitcher do you think will reach that potential and be the Orioles ace? I think it will be Britton with Matusz coming in a close second. So which cavalry member are you betting on?