How’s that title for arrogance? The “last word” … but is that the ultimate final last word? Or is it just the last word in a list of “lasts?” Probably it’s the latter. But I think I actually am indeed the absolute last Orioles writer or blogger to weigh in on the rotation issue.
As some others have commented, you need to look no further than this conundrum facing the Orioles’ administration to know that there is a new day in Baltimore baseball. We have not seen riches like this in a long time.
Let’s cut through this logically and quickly with a few summary statements (assuming no trades of anyone now on the roster or major debilitating injuries):
2. Anyone else who wants to be a starter will have to “pitch themselves into a job” to be a part of the top five.
3. If Joe Saunders is signed as a free agent, this article can end right here – there are your five guys.
4. It is clearly the strategy of Dan Duquette and the Orioles’ brass to keep every player they possibly can who shows signs of potentially helping the team, sooner or later. This philosophy will affect choices made as to who breaks camp with the team.
5. As a corollary to #4, the issue of options will also play into the puzzle, as will the issue of T.J. McFarland as a Rule 5 draftee.
Therefore, logically, the following applications would seem to necessarily follow:
A. Tommy Hunter is out of options. In a perfect world, he will be so awesome in Spring Training that he will win the 5th position. That seems too perfect to me, but he will be kept as one of the two swing men with that near 100 mph heater.
B. McFarland will likely pitch well enough to be kept as the other swing man, meaning that Brian Matusz will either have to be the 5th starter, a swing man if Hunter is a starter, or go to Norfolk. He is, however, the first guy to be included if one of the five back of the bullpen relievers falters or is injured.
D. Jurrjens, if 100% healthy again, is as good as anyone named in this article … but, like we often say about Orioles players, “that’s a big ‘if.’”
So, it is as simple as A,B,C,D. There’s your last word! But think about this: It is possible that the Norfolk Tides rotation could be Britton, Matusz, Jurrjens, Johnson, and Arrieta!! And notice that the names Bundy, Gausman, Belfiore, and Clark did not come up until … well … just now.