As was expected for at the very least the latter part of spring training, Orioles’ skipper Buck Showalter officially named Jake Arrieta his starting pitcher for Friday’s Opening Day game against Minnesota at Camden Yards. Again, this comes as no surprise to most people that follow the team, however now it’s out there and official. This completes quick a comeback for Arrieta, who last season went 10-8 with an ERA of 5.05 over 22 starts. His season was cut short due to bone spurs in his right (throwing) elbow. Manager Buck Showalter also said that he felt that Arrieta was one of the team’s better pitchers last season before the surgery.
Last season you might remember that Arrieta began the season as the fourth starter in the rotation, however I think that was a specific rotation spot that was given to him for almost the same reason that he’s the Opening Day starter in 2012. Game four of 2011 was the home opener at Camden Yards, and I think that Buck Showalter wanted to showcase Arrieta for the hometown fans. He certainly brings a certain amount of swagger to the mound in his starts, which rarely leave anyone asking for more cowbell please! At this point Arrieta’s statistics in the Grapefruit League are all but irrelevant, however for the record he was 1-0 with an ERA of 6.14. That ERA isn’t exactly the greatest, but again keep in mind that we’re talking about limited and almost controled appearances in spring training as opposed to pitching in regular season games. One of Arrieta’s vices has always been walks, and the good news is that in 14 and 2/3’s of an inning he only walked one batter.
Arrieta will be taxed with trying to go deep into a game on Friday to avoid having to tap too far into a bullpen that appears to be a bit improved but is still potentially a huge question mark. Showalter also pulled back the curtain on some of the other starters, but not in total. Jason Hammel will get the start on Easter Sunday at the yard against the Twins, and it sounds as if Wei-Yin Chen has earned a rotation spot as well. Showalter didn’t say whether Chen would be the second or fourth starter, and he neglected to actually name a fifth starter. (Keep in mind that the decision might have already been made and the guy’s beginning to prepare, however the public hasn’t been told yet.) So the rotation will look something like this: Arrieta, [possibly] Chen/Hunter, Hammel, [possibly] Chen/Hunter, and a fifth starter. I’m thinking that other starter will Brian Matusz; if so, I would expect Chen to be the #2 starter, Hunter the #4, and Matusz the #5. As staff writer Randy Buchman correctly pointed out to me, odds are against them throwing two southpaws (Chen and Matusz) back-to-back.
Radio Appearance: So get this…your humble correspondent (that being me) will be appearing as a guest on behalf of Birds Watcher and the Fansided network on “Super Sports 101.7-FM” in Blacksburg, VA at 4:30 this afternoon to talk Orioles’ baseball on The Clubhouse with Kyle Bailey. Granted that nobody in the greater Baltimore area will be able to hear the program over the air, however the good news is that you can listen online at by clicking here (just click “listen live”). Super Sports is a strong FM signal that broadcasts throughout much of southwestern Virginia, so “The Clubhouse” does have good reach.
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