SARASOTA, Fla. – It’s looking less and less likely that Jair Jurrjens will be the Orioles’ fifth starter. Joe Saunders won’t be.
If Jurrjens and Saunders are out of the picture, let’s look at five pitchers who have a chance to take the fifth on Apr. 6.
1) Jake Arrieta
Arrieta was the Opening Day starter last year, and started the home opener in 2011. The Orioles open at Tampa Bay this year and will play seven games before their first off-day. The fifth starter is scheduled to start on Apr. 6 in Baltimore against Cleveland.
Last year’s opening game for Arrieta was terrific. Few others were, and three months after the season opened, Arrieta was sent to Norfolk.
Late in the season, Arrieta was brought back, pitched out of the bullpen a few times and now must fight to even make the club.
There’s been a lot of interest from other teams in Arrieta, but the Orioles still think he’s going to be a contributor.
2) Zach Britton
In 2011, Arrieta and Britton were the two leading winners on the Orioles’ staff with 21 victories. Last season, they combined for eight.
Britton’s 2012 was hampered by a sore shoulder, which cost him two months, and he remained in Norfolk after his rehab assignment was over.
As the Orioles were playing their best ball, last September, Britton was totally forgotten. He didn’t pitch for 18 days.
As with Arrieta, there’s a lot of interest in Britton, too, but others will probably have to stumble or be hurt for him to make the team out of spring training.
3) Steve Johnson
One of the neatest stories in 2012 was Johnson, the son of former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson. Never a highly touted prospect or a hard thrower, Johnson made the most of his appearances. He was 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA.
He’s probably more versatile than either Arrieta or Britton. He relieved eight times and started four times last year. If there’s an opening in the bullpen for the long man, he could fill it though Tommy Hunter probably has the advantage.
4) T.J. McFarland
McFarland was chosen in the Rule 5 draft in December, and could make the team as a left-handed reliever, but in the minor leagues, he most often started.
He was a combined 16-8 in Double-A and Triple-A in the Cleveland organization, and will probably get a very long look as both a starter and reliever.
5) Todd Redmond
Last Friday, the Orioles picked up the right-hander on waivers from Cincinnati, and they think he can compete for a big league job. Redmond is most likely ticketed to Norfolk.
He’s made just one big league start; last August he allowed four runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Chicago Cubs.
Matusz did so well in the bullpen that it’s hard to see the Orioles moving him out of there, but they have a lot invested in 2008’s fourth pick.
Hunter would love to have a chance to start again, but he’s better off in the bullpen, and so are the Orioles
Wada is still recovering from the Tommy John surgery that cost him 2012. He has a good chance of joining the rotation, but not until later on.
He’ll be in the rotation soon enough, but he’ll probably start the season in Bowie.
It’s taken years from him to get this far, and the career minor leaguer will be happy to see the big leagues at some point in 2013.