O's pitchers, start your arms

O's pitchers, start your arms
January 3, 2013, 1:45 am
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Even if the Orioles don’t sign Joe Saunders and bring him back to the rotation, the competition for roster spots among the pitchers will be tight. As described by our Rich Dubroff and mlb.com’s Brittany Ghiroli, to start with, there isn’t much room in the bullpen. Last season’s group could stay pretty much the same.

So what about the rotation?

Ghiroli projects two locks — Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen — and two semi-locks — Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman.

“Should both Gonzalez and Tillman excel in camp and secure spots — manager Buck Showalter is a big fan of competition and will probably shy away from publicly handing out jobs early in the spring — things will get interesting for the fifth-starter race,” Ghiroli writes.

It’s six for one. There’s the disappointing 2012 pair, Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton. There’s the starters-turned-relief aces, Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz. And there’s the don’t-forget-about-us pair, Steve Johnson and Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland.

And that’s not counting ready-to-burst-on-the-scene prospects Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. And not counting the aforementioned Saunders. Or accounting for club vice president Dan Duquette scrounging up another arm, though Duquette also could deal from his pitching deck in an attempt to land a first baseman or designated hitter.

When pitchers and catchers report next month, someone should wave a green flag to show that the race has begun.