How does the Orioles rotation compare with their AL East foes?

The top of the rotation will be something to watch for the Orioles this year

Wild Card Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Milwaukee Brewers - Game One
Wild Card Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Milwaukee Brewers - Game One / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

Pitchers and catchers reported for spring training Wednesday, kicking off a highly anticipated Orioles season. The Baltimore club, which calls Sarasota, Florida, their springtime home, welcomed back familiar faces like Tyler Wells, John Means, and Dean Kremer. New members of the team like Corbin Burnes will serve as veteran mentors to the young yet playoff-experienced O’s core.

Despite the excitement behind the Orioles’ trade for Burnes, who is regarded as the team’s ace, questions remain about how the team and their starting rotation stacks up against rotations around the American League.

How does the Orioles rotation stack up against their AL counterparts?

MLB Network published their rotations to watch within the AL, including the Orioles, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays, and Seattle Mariners. Each team has one of the most dangerous pitchers in baseball in their rotation, including Luis Castillo for Seattle and Kevin Gausman for the Jays.

Gerrit Cole, New York’s ace, was the unanimous Cy Young Award winner in 2023, while Burnes, Castillo, and Gausman all received votes for their respective leagues. Upon looking at the stat sheet, the comparison between Burnes and Cole, the one that Orioles fans will have their eye on this season does not favor the O’s.

Burnes posted a 3.5 WAR in 2023 versus Cole’s 7.4, in addition to Cole’s 2.63 ERA which led the American League. In this case, Burnes will have his work cut out for him. However, a change of scenery and a new supporting cast with young talent could work to his benefit.

Burnes came from the 2023 National League Central champion Milwaukee Brewers, who could not pull off a series victory in the Wild Card Series against the eventual NL champion Arizona Diamondbacks.

This season Burnes will be afforded one of the best infields in baseball, boasting Adley Rutschman behind the dish, with Gunnar Henderson, Ryan Mountcastle, and Ramon Urias, with the possibility of a Jackson Holliday callup from Triple-A Aberdeen.

Despite the statistical gap between Burnes and Cole, the rest of the Orioles rotation has been vocal in their optimism for the upcoming year. Grayson Rodriguez, who is expected to start full-time after being optioned last year, said at the Birdland Caravan that he’s learned a lot.

"I think there’s a whole list of things. But really just kind of how to navigate the big leagues. Some big stadiums, some big moments. Some big names that you face. Just kind of learning how to keep all of that under control and go out there and play nine innings."

Grayson Rodriguez

The goal for this O’s team in 2024: keep it under control against the big names and play nine innings of complete baseball.