The Orioles announced on Friday afternoon that Bud Norris will be starting the team's home opener on April 10. That means the O's first four starters for the season are set like so: Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Norris. As four of the five starters have been named and neither Kevin Gausman nor Ubaldo Jimenez are in that number, it seems likely Gausman won't be opening up in the major league rotation.
Who will be the team's fifth starter hasn't been announced just yet. The Orioles can wait another week or so before they do, as they won't need a fifth in the rotation until April 15, which is the ninth game of the season. That's the advantage of having an off day after the first series of the year.
It's hard to imagine that starter could end up being anyone other than Jimenez. Whether fans will like it or not, he's looked good towards the close of spring training and the O's didn't sign him to bury him in long relief in year two of his four-year contract. We aren't at the sunk cost juncture just yet. At least initially this means Gausman will be on the outside looking in. Maybe they'll make Gausman that long man. Maybe they'll send him to Norfolk for lack of any other ideas of what to do with him.
One thing that might suggest the O's are leaning towards keeping Gausman on the MLB roster, even if he's in the bullpen, is that manager Buck Showalter told O's reporters on Friday that the team would be starting with 13 pitchers on the roster. On the other hand, that may not tell us much after all. The one remaining game on Chris Davis' suspension means that someone who is on the team on Day 1 will not be there on Day 2.
If the Orioles open the season with 13 pitchers on the staff, you have to figure that the player getting optioned or even DFA'd before game #2 would be a relief pitcher. With the team looking to be set to run a platoon at both spots in the outfield, it's hard to imagine they could carry just a three-man bench for very long.
Dan Duquette being who he is, he still has about 48 hours to surprise us, of course. Maybe he will yet find a way to do that. Other minor injuries could be unearthed in that time, giving the O's more of a chance to decide how to dispense with fringe players.
They found another such injury on Friday as they announced that Jimmy Paredes has a strained lower back and could be a DL candidate to start the season. That is a convenient development for the Orioles. I'm sure he'll need a nice, long rehab assignment for this injury.
Back to Norris, he has not looked so good through the spring. Each time he and/or pitching coach Dave Wallace have tried to stay positive, pointing out that the competitive aspect as motivation won't be there until the regular season. Here's hoping they are right.