And so the search begins for an Opening Day starter in Baltimore.  With Jeremy Guthrie’s departure comes a slew of questions about who will pick up the slack, throw 200+ innings and take the hill at the top of the Orioles rotation.

On paper, 24-year old Zach Britton appears to be the Orioles starter on April 6 at Camden Yards against the Minnesota Twins.  “I want to be that guy,” Britton told MLB Network Radio on Monday.

“I definitely am not scared to get that ball.”

Britton’s 2011 season was a roller coaster ride, but he finished the year feeling good about his future.  I still believe that he has the most upside of anyone in that rotation, but he certainly faced some adversity last season.

Here’s a recap in case you missed it.

Previously on Zach Britton’s 2011 season:

  • Britton pitched like a rock star in Spring Training (4 starts, 3-0, 1.35  ERA), but was sent to Norfolk to begin the season.
  • After making one start with the Tides, Britton was called up by the Orioles on April 1 to replace to injured Brian Matusz.
  • Britton allowed one run on three hits in his debut against the Rays and shutout the Teas Rangers in his next start.  He began 2011 with a 5-3 record through his first two months of the season.
  • After going 1-4 with a 6.42 ERA in June and July, the Orioles sent Britton down the Double-A Bowie.
  • He was recalled on July 30 and went 0-2 with a 15.88 ERA in his next two starts before landing on the disabled list with a shoulder stain on August 5.
  • Britton returned on August 28 and finished the season with a 4-2 record and 4.81 ERA.

“Facing a guy like CC Sabathia all the time, James Shields, [Jon] Lester… facing the number ones of those teams, I think that would be great.  I would love that challenge to beat the best guys,” Britton said.

Right now he’s the leading candidate to do just that.

Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of  You can follow him on Twitter @zamwi or send him an email: