With the recent signings of Ubaldo Jimenez and Suk-Min Yoon and the rumors of Kendrys Morales as a possible cherry on top, everyone went from dreading Opening Day to saving up for postseason tickets. Before we do anything though, let’s take a step back and examine the roster.
This is a two-part series as I will project the position players next week. Here are my initial thoughts on the pitching staff that will be traveling north and opening the season in front of 46K plus at Camden Yards come March 31 at 3 PM.
Chris Tillman (RHP) – My guy. Maybe not an “ace”, but even with the Jimenez signing I still believe Tilly is the defacto ace of the squad. He went 16-7 with a solid 3.71 ERA in his break out season in 2013.
Ubaldo Jimenez (RHP) – The new hot chick in town. A 4 year, $50 million from the short-armed Peter Angelos (biggest free agent deal since Miguel Tejada) shows what the team/Buck thinks about the guy. Ubaldo eats innings and isn’t prone to the long ball.
Wei-Yin Chen (LHP) – This import has been good when healthy and mediocre when he’s not. Chen wore down late in the season in ’13, but has shown when going good to be a consistent strike thrower and innings eater.
Bud Norris (RHP) – Stud Bud was the big trade deadline move for the club in ’13. He didn’t exactly shine for the Birds (4-3, 4.80 ERA), but did show signs of excellent stuff (57 K’s in 50 innings). He’ll be a solid four or five guy.
Miguel Gonzalez (RHP) – If you look up “gritty” on Google, this guy’s picture would come up. The dude pitches like it’s his last game each start and has been the O’s best pitcher vs. the AL East. He could be the swing guy if Kevin Gausman pitches his way into the rotation in the spring. But for now, he’s a solid, reliable number five guy.
Ryan Webb (RHP) – One of the offseason signings, Webb should fit in nicely as a set up guy. Not exactly a strikeout guy, but doesn’t walk guys and should assist in bridging the gap to the new closer (Tommy Hunter, IMO).
Darren O’Day (RHP) – The submariner who is probably the most consistent reliever for Buck Showalter over the years is as reliable as death and taxes. Seemed a bit over used late last year, but I expect him to be the 8th inning guy.
Brian Matusz (LHP) – This former 5th pick overall has found his spot as the Orioles lefty specialist out of the ‘pen. And although he still wants a shot to start, I just think the club feels his best spot is in the BP for now. Owns Big sloppy (David Ortiz).
Tommy Hunter (RHP) – My former neighbor and newly married friend is slated as the club’s new closer. Jim Johnson did save over 100 games the past two years, but the blown saves (9 just last year) and his contract ($10.5 million) was too much for the club to keep him. Hunter is ready for this challenge.
T.J. McFarland (LHP) – This former Rule 5 guy is one of the skipper’s favorite guys (like Ryan Flaherty). His job last year was to be the mop up guy or spot starter (double headers, ect). His early results weren’t good, but as the season went on he started to get comfortable. Everyone needs a TJ type guy in the bullpen. Could get bumped when Troy Patton returns from suspension.
Suk-min Yoon (RHP) – Another of the Orioles off-season signings is this Korean import. Not much info on him, but the limited stuff we pulled on BSR shows he can get hitters out with a variety of pitches. Not a flame thrower, but seems to know how to pitch. Also wants a chance to start, but I don’t see that happening barring a rash of injuries.
Zach Britton (LHP) – So much promise, not a lot of results from this lefty. But since he is out of options, I expect the club to give him every opportunity to make the team as a starter first, but more likely a lefty BP long man. His stuff is great the first time around thru a lineup, but seems to not trust his stuff later in the games. Needs to focus on throwing strikes.
Alfredo Aceves (RHP)- This former Red Sox pitcher has started games as well as come in relief in his 6 year MLB career. It’s been his head, not his pitching that has this vagabond on his 3rd AL East team in 6 seasons. The club will give him every opportunity to make the team, but any off the field incidents won’t be tolerated as his deal in a minor league deal.
Remember, this projection is based on how I see the team as it presently sits here on February 19th. I also don’t anticipate the club will add another starter or bullpen guy before the spring training games start, but if someone goes down it could happen.
I do, however, believe the wild card in the starting rotation is Gausman who has the stuff to be a potential number one guy down the line. I agree with most Orioles experts that getting him more time in Triple-A will only assist in not only his pitching mechanics, but his confidence overall.
Also, don’t forget prize pitcher Dylan Bundy has started a throwing routine (coming off Tommy John surgery) and could potentially be a September call up if needed. And not to look ahead too much, but how good does a rotation of Bundy, Gausman, Tillman, Jimenez and fill in the blanks sound in the coming years?
Pretty good to this Orange Kool Aid consumer.