Baltimore Orioles: Rotation Woes vs. Opening Day

August 8, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (31) pitches the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
August 8, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (31) pitches the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

With Opening Day looming, will the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez lead the Baltimore Orioles to victory?

The Baltimore Orioles season will begin on April 4th and there’s still no set Opening Day starter. As we creep through Spring Training, we’re into the latter half and there is still not a stand out for the Opening Day bid let alone how the Starting Rotation will shape up as a whole. So if we take a minute to size up the progress, there might be a new Pitcher starting in Baltimore’s first official game of the season.

As far as I can tell, the five man rotation will shape up with the expected suspects, Chris Tillman, Yovani Gallardo, Ubaldo Jimenez, Miguel Gonzalez, and Kevin Gausman but will the season begin that way? In addition, who will tighten up and become the stand out for April 4th and the way Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson are pitching, there may be an unpredicted shake up.

Chris Tillman had a rough start to his Spring by beginning it with a hip flexor injury that delayed his start until March 15th. He pitched 1.2 innings of work, giving up 2 earned runs on 5 hits and 3 walks. Clearly not his sharpest work but he was still working towards becoming 100%. On March 20th he was able to pitch 4 innings, this time giving up 3 earned runs on 5 hits and 1 walk. He brought his ERA from 10.80 to 7.94 but this he was slightly sharper, striking out five.

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  • Tillman still has the rest of Spring to work towards feeling 100% and becoming sharper but he’s still has a lot to prove if he’s going to get the Opening Day nod, if he’s even healthy enough. The second most likely starter could be considered Yovani Gallardo but he’s looked even worse.

    Yovani Gallardo has not had a lot of success this Spring himself. Gallardo has had two Spring starts, both against Philadelphia, in which he’s pitched 4.1 innings giving up 8 earned runs. Between the two starts he’s given up 8 Hits of which 4 of those were HR’s. His ERA is sitting at 16.62 and he’s only struck out one batter. We seem to still be waiting for a solid effort from Gallardo but there’s some time left to see where he’ll end up in the rotation.

    Ubaldo Jimenez seems to have made the most progress of the likely starters. His first start was on March 2nd when he gave up 6 earned runs in just .1 innings on 3 Hits and 3 Walks. Although an admittedly terrible outing, it didn’t seem to shake him. Since then, Jimenez has had two more starts where he pitched a total of 6.1 innings giving up only one earned run, bringing his ERA from 162.00 down to 9.45.

    Miguel Gonzalez had a start to his Spring much like Jimenez, giving up 7 earned runs in just 1.1 innings. Unfortunately Miguel’s development hasn’t be as consistent. We can only hope that Gonzalez’s latest outing will be more like what we expect to see throughout the year. He gave up just 2 earned runs in four innings of work and was the first outing he didn’t give up a home run. At this rate Gonzalez will be securely the fourth, maybe even the fifth starter.

    Kevin Gausman has probably looked the best of all those considered to be in the starting rotation already. The 25-yr old hurler has accrued 6 SO in just 6 innings of work, posting a 4.4 ERA. Recently Gausman has found himself ailing from right shoulder tendinitis. It’s looking like he’ll be shut down for the rest of the week but maybe more. Hopefully he will be ready for his first scheduled regular season start, whenever that may be. There is a chance that Buck could be cautious enough to have Gausman start the year on the DL if the inflammation continues.

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    If this is in fact the case, who will be slated to take his role? The competition would be an all to familiar one between Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson. Wright has pitched 11.2 innings of work, posting a 5.40 ERA. His last outing was his best, pitching 5 scoreless innings, a complete turn around from the previous effort that saw him give up 5 earned runs in just 2.2 innings.

    Tyler Wilson has looked the best out of all of the Orioles pitchers. In the four games Wilson has pitched in, 9.1 total innings, he’s posted a 2.89 ERA and has limited the opposition to only two hits in 3 out of 4 of his outings. Although he’s not racking up the Strike-Outs, he done a great job of hitting his spots and keeping the HR’s at bay.

    At this rate, if Gausman is unable to make his first start, we could very well see Wilson temporarily take the fifth starting role to begin the season and depending on Miguel Gonzalez’ progression, a potential permanent rotation spot. As much as I love Miguel’s story, hard work and determination, it may be the time to place him into the bullpen and give Tyler the go ahead. I guess we’ll see how the Spring rolls out.

    Next: 2016 Impact of the Rule 5 Guys

    As far as the Opening Day nod is concerned, I’m fairly confident we may see Ubaldo Jimenez fulfill this role for the first time since signing the four year $50 million dollar contract in February of 2014. If Jimenez does get the start, it will be his first since 2011 when he started on Opening Day for the Colorado Rockies. There’s a good chance the starting rotation, at least temporarily, may look as I predict below:

    1. Ubaldo Jimenez
    2. Chris Tillman
    3. Yovani Gallardo
    4. Miguel Gonzalez
    5. Tyler Wilson