Mar 2, 2013; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Brian Matusz (17) throws against the Tampa Bay Rays during the bottom of the third inning of a spring training game at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking Orioles Starting Pitching in Various Categories

Ranking Orioles Starting Pitching in Various Categories

Everyone knew it was going to be a difficult but interesting challenge to see who the Orioles were going to keep as a fifth starter in the rotation (assuming Hammel, Chen, Gonzalez, and Tillman are the top four). And it has been everything we all imagined; and beyond that, there is more to come! Figuring out who will be selected in the end is about like predicting the winner of the scrambling crabs game on the big screen between innings at Orioles games.

The Orioles essentially have 14 possibilities for starters (as I’m including Rule 5 pick McFarland in that number, along with Wada who will not be ready by April, and Hunter who is pretty much destined for the bullpen around this crowd). But here is the list in alphabetical order. I am going to do some rankings of these guys in various categories below this list.


Who have the most natural talent? – 1) Bundy, 2) Gausman, 3) Arrieta, 4) Matusz, 5) Britton

Who have done the most with their talent to this point in their careers? – 1) Gonzalez, 2) Johnson, 3) Tillman, 4) Hammel, 5) Chen

Who have most disappointed to this point in their careers? – 1) Matusz, 2) Arrieta, 3) Britton, 4) Hunter, 5) Wada – simply by being injured

Who are most valuable to the franchise over the long haul? – 1) Bundy, 2) Gausman, 3) Tillman, 4) Matusz, 5) Bundy

Who are the most tradable/expendable at this point? – 1) Hunter – too many homers, but few can throw around 99-100 mph, 2) Arrieta – when will be put it together, a good spring makes him valuable to bring something back? 3) Britton, 4) Matusz, 5) Johnson

Who are the most valuable to the Orioles in April of this year? It looks like Matusz has the inside track to the 5th spot, and I will admit I did not see that coming. Arrieta has thrown about as well, but is not as valuable as a right-hander. At this moment, McFarland looks good enough to keep and contribute.

  • Jake Arrieta – AAA
  • Zach Britton – AAA
  • Dylan Bundy – AA
  • Wei-Yin Chen – 2
  • Kevin Gausman – AA
  • Michael Gonzalez – 4
  • Jason Hammel – 1
  • Tommy Hunter – Bullpen
  • Steve Johnson – AAA
  • Jair Jurrjens – AAA
  • Brian Matusz – 5
  • T.J. McFarland – Bullpen
  • Chris Tillman – 3
  • Tsuyoshi Wada – DL

That Norfolk starting rotation could be pretty amazing – perhaps with Zach Clark as a fifth guy. I am afraid that, as much as I really like every one of these guys, one or two of the five starters will struggle to the point where we see the likes of Arrieta, Johnson, or Britton not terribly far into the season.  Perhaps a trade will thin the numbers also.

As Buck says, sorting out this situation is a good problem to have. So what do you think? Would you argue with any of these lists?

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  • Dave Gruber

    I always enjoy reading your posts. I imagine it’s because I agree with almost everything you write. Once again I think you nailed it as far as your ranking the pitchers. Here’s my take on the starting rotation. First of all, what a difference a year makes! Last year Arrieta was opening day starter this year he is fighting to be the fifth starter. I feel personally that Arrieta, Matusz and Britton have had plenty of opportunities to claim their spot, I believe it’s time to give Steve Johnson his crack at it. I love watching him pitch. All he does is get the hitters out. Arrieta reminds me of Dennis Martinez, hopefully he will develop while still with the Os, something Martinez didn’t do. One last thing, if you’d told me at this time last year that this year we’d have a dozen quality pitchers vying for the starting five I’d have never believed it.

    • Randy Buchman

      Your last point is so true. I’ll admit I was a DD skeptic, not a hater, just did not know what to think and did not find him to be very warm and fuzzy, but, that’s not part of the job description and he’s done a great job. Since I’m not there to really know these pitchers other than what can be ascertained from TV interviews and written comments – along with simply watching – I fear being ungenerous when evaluating them … but … it just seems like the guys having success are more aggressive in going after people and really pitching (like Johnson), while those struggling sometimes seemed to be afraid of what might go wrong next (Matusz as a starter / Arrieta). The mental part of this is a big factor with this crew, I believe.

  • Joseph Barrett

    I don’t know if you meant to…or if it was a slip, but I love that Dylan Bundy was listed twice as the most valuable to the team in the long haul :)

    • Randy Buchman

      Wow… well… I guess that is what in psychology is called a Freudian slip.

  • Tgraves302

    if matusz keeps it up you are one of the few sports writers whose outcome I agree with. Good job

    • Randy Buchman

      Thanks man… I really really like Matusz and Arrieta, just sort of wish they were a little nastier and didn’t get the deer in the headlights looks. They just have so much talent, but I wasn’t betting on either one of them.