Looking at Starting Pitchers

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So the Orioles are still looking for a veteran innings eater to put in the starting rotation to keep the pressure off their young pitchers. However, as the days go by, their options are dwindling. I wrote an article the other day about the option of the Orioles just putting Jim Johnson in the rotation. Keep in mind, I haven’t actually heard any serious consideration for this being done, so it doesn’t seem like a viable option, just and idea that I threw out there.

Let’s just say the Orioles will look outside the organization for another starter. What are their options? If Andy MacPhail wants the Orioles to get a veteran starter who will eat up innings, then their options are very limited.

The Orioles had serious interest in the Cubs Tom Gorzelanny, but he was traded across town to the Nationals. They also were rumored to have interest in Chris Young, but he just signed with the Mets. This leaves a short list of uninspiring names in the free agent and trade markets.

In free agency there is Jeremy Bonderman, Doug Davis, Justin Duchscherer, Freddy Garcia, Rodrigo Lopez, John Maine, Kevin Millwood, Brian Moehler and Nate Robertson. I have to be honest, out of these pitchers; the one who most resembles what the Orioles are looking for is Kevin Millwood. The rest are either coming off injuries or just haven’t been consistent major league pitchers. I can’t see the Orioles giving it a second go with Lopez or Maine and Millwood still seems to be a long shot.

Doug Davis and Freddy Garcia both have decent track records but there has to be concerns over whether they can maintain that success in the AL East. Davis only had 8 starts last season with a 7.51 ERA, but if you look at his previous 6 seasons he put up solid numbers while consistently starting over 30 games. This was all done in the NL Central and NL West which don’t match up offensively with the AL East. Garcia started in 28 games last year with a 4.64 ERA while pitching in the AL Central. On the other hand, Garcia hasn’t pitched in 30 games or over 200 innings since the 2006 season.

For me personally, the most intriguing name is Justin Duchscherer. He started in only 5 games last season and 22 games in 2008 but had a sub 3.00 ERA in those 27 games and by far has put up the best numbers of this group. Duchsherer clearly has the most potential and is the best pitcher, while can still probably be signed to a one year deal at little cost. The major problem with Duchsherer is that he is extremely injury prone and is not the innings eater type veteran the Orioles are looking for. Duchsherer is the innings eating equivalent to Calista Flockhart.

The Orioles have been linked briefly to the Braves Kenshin Kawakami and the Phillies Joe Blanton so they are also trade possibilities. Those are the only names left on the trade market that the Orioles have been mentioned with, but it was only for a brief moment and I wouldn’t hold your breath on either of those guys coming to Baltimore. There always could be another starter whose name comes up as spring training gets closer.

If it was my choice I would sign Duchscherer and have him battle it out with the Orioles other young starters and hope he stays healthy. However, I think the Orioles will end up either signing Freddy Garcia or trading for a starter that hasn’t been linked to the Orioles just yet. That is assuming the Orioles make a move for another starter. There also is the distinct possibility they just stand pat and let their young starters battle it out.