Hey A.L East, Rotate On This !

Featured, Sports and Bets — April 1, 2013 at 1:56 pm by

The Birds begin their 2013 campaign tomorrow in Tampa and I couldn’t be more excited.  There is actually a legitimate pre-season buzz surrounding this team.  The last time that was a reality, Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office playing hide the cigar with Monica Lewinsky.  Even the official station of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, ESPN, is giving our Birds love, with their lead analyst Buster Olney picking the Orioles as eventual A.L East Champs.  Exciting times indeed, but we all know that none of it means squat until they start playing ’em for real.  I think we all also know that the key to making  Olney’s prediction a reality is the performance of the Orioles’ starting rotation,  a rotation that doesn’t necessarily boast a true number one starter, but does contain a deep collection of number twos and threes.  These young guns really hit their stride last season, and with the help of one of the best bullpens in baseball, the Orioles were able to register a team ERA  of under 4.00 for the first time since 1997.  If Baltimore can maintain this number they have a legitimate shot at a repeat playoff appearance. 

The rotation has been set and will be reviewed below, but no major league rotation is ever set in stone, especially one managed by Buck Showalter.  With several potential starters already up, and with potential aces Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman developing in the minors, the pressure will be on these current starters to perform.  Buck has already shown a tendency to yank  pitchers out of the rotation for poor performance. With the Orioles boasting  a wealth of young arms, I doubt this  “perform or get out-of-the-way” philosophy will change.  

Here’s a breakdown of the Orioles rotation as it currently stands.

Jason Hammel (RHP):  (2012: 8-6 3.43 ERA)  Nobody gave a shit when the Orioles traded Jeremy Guthrie for Hammel before theJason-Hammel 2012 season.  In fact most fans thought it was simply a way for the Orioles to avoid arbitration with Guthrie.  Wrong.  Hammel, despite a bum knee, pitched very well for the Orioles and has asserted himself as the unofficial ace of the staff. His knee seems to be fine now and we hope for big things from this suddenly very solid starter.  13-15 wins in this slot would be fantastic.

Wei-Yin Chen (LHP):  (2012: 12-11 4.02 ERA) This crafty lefty took the A.L. by storm early last season.  He won’t blow the ball past anybody, his fastball runs in the 88-91 mph range, but he uses all of the plate and works with several different pitches.  He seemed to struggle a little late in the season last year and I hope that’s not a sign of things to come.  On the positive side he possesses the ability to be  the best left-handed starter we’ve had since Jimmy Key.  I would be thrilled with a repeat performance of last season.

Miguel Gonzalez (RHP):  (2012: 9-4 3.25)  This guy’s a beast.  Gonzalez got his call-up in July last year and man, he made the most of it.  He is a cold-blooded and determined pitcher who has battled his way to the majors after four years of injuries and poor performances.  Again, he’s not a guy who will blast fastballs by you all day, but his pitches have movement and he can hit his spots well.  A lot of experts are wary of him moving forward, but I think this kid has the potential to win 16-18 games.  My favorite Oriole pitcher.

Jake Arrieta (RHP):  (2012: 3-9 6.20 ERA) This guy was last years opening day starter. He evolved into a train-wreck as the year went on. He must have had a great spring because as a fan, I’ve got no faith in this guy as  a starter.  The leash will be short on Arrieta, but at least we’re guaranteed the pleasure of having Jake pitch the home opener.   This guy is the classic pitcher with great stuff who can never seem to get it together.  Like him better in the bullpen.  I am hoping  to be pleasantly surprised.                                             

Chris Tillman

Chris Tillman

Chris Tillman (RHP): (2012: 9-3 2.93)  Tillman is a 24-year-old youngster who had it all come together last year.  Another call up who produced big time, Tillman would probably be the 4 if it wasn’t for starting the year on the DL.  If this guy continues to progress, he’s a definite 15 win possibility, especially pitching in this slot of the rotation. 

It will be exciting to watch these players progress through the season, and remember, if they can’t hack it the Birds have other young arms that will be ready to roll. Steve Johnson, Brian Matusz, Zack Britton, Kevin Gausman, and Dylan Bundy all  may see starts this year.  Hell, any one of them could take Arrieta’s spot in the rotation for all I care.  It all begins in Tampa tomorrow. Tomorrow can’t get here soon enough.  Play ball babes!


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