After suffering through last season hoping that Jeremy Guthrie would fill the role of the veteran leader of an unproven pitching staff, Andy MacPhail went out and got another pitcher to attempt to fill that role. Kevin Millwood comes to the Orioles after four seasons spent with the Texas Rangers, who were looking to shed payroll and found a willing trade partner with the Birds, who parted ways with Chris Ray and Ben Snyder in the transaction. Millwood begins his fourteenth season in the majors with his fifth team, following stints with the Rangers, Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves, where his career started.
Millwood will be counted on to front a staff that presumably will include Guthrie, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, and Brad Bergesen (when he returns from injury). He will be asked to pitch lots of innings, keep the team in games, be a streak stopper when necessary and to help mentor the young arms on the staff. It’s a role that is reversed from when he arrived in Atlanta where veterans like Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine were in the starting rotation and he was the young gun coming up from the minors. Certainly he picked up some hints from his days in Atlanta on how to go about his business on the mound and can impart the wisdom he gleaned from those three pitchers and use it to help the young trio of hurlers (and others not in the rotation) to become dependable pitchers for the Birds. In fact, it will be interesting to see if he plays any role in helping the young guys along. It has been reported that Millwood provided quiet, steady leadership for the Texas pitching staff; MacPhail has to be hoping for more of the same for the O’s.
Millwood is coming off his best season in terms of ERA with the Rangers, and won 13 games for them last year. If he can pitch as well, if not a little better than he did last season, the deal will be looked at as a success-particularly if he can help the youngsters and Guthrie make strides toward becoming a top of the line pitching staff. It remains to be seen if Millwood has enough left in the tank to lead the staff to a successful season, but here’s one vote hoping he does.