Not only do the Orioles finally have something resembling a starting rotation, we now also know in what order the starters will be pitching. Manager Buck Showalter announced before Friday’s spring training game who would be following Dylan Bundy in the rotation, in order: Andrew Cashner, Kevin Gausman, Chris Tillman.
That leaves out a fifth starter for now. Showalter also told reporters that he hasn’t committed to that fifth starter spot just yet and that the Orioles are watching the waiver wire. None of Mike Wright Jr., Nestor Cortes Jr., or Miguel Castro have looked like great answers in spring training, even for just a handful of starts. I don’t think the waiver wire will bring any better answers.
The off day immediately after Opening Day provides an opportunity to have the #1 starter, in this case Bundy, start the fifth game of the season on regular rest. Showalter did not commit to that course of action just yet. The Orioles made a priority to steal some extra rest for Bundy last season and they may continue to do so even with him slotting in as the Opening Day starter.
The Orioles shouldn’t need a very long-term solution for the fifth starter spot, barring an injury suffered by someone else, since it’s really a matter of waiting until Alex Cobb is stretched out enough to start. It doesn’t make much of a difference whether the first game a fifth starter is needed is the fifth or the sixth game. On MASN during yesterday’s game, Cobb said he hoped to be ready to go by mid-April, so it could be a matter of another fifth starter just covering two or three starts.
You can count me a bit surprised that the brand new Oriole Cashner is getting dropped in ahead of Gausman. With Gausman being the Opening Day starter last year, I thought for sure he’d be the #1 starter again this year. Instead, he’s back at #3. Gausman’s relative disappointment in 2017 explains the move back. Hopefully it works out for everybody this way.
Showalter also revealed a bit about the composition of the bullpen in his Friday pre-game remarks. There have been comments through spring training about the possibility of Darren O’Day and Mychal Givens getting closing opportunities along with Brad Brach while Zach Britton is on the shelf. Showalter confirmed as much. It’ll be interesting to see how he decides who to go with on what night. Hopefully this also works out for everybody.
Other unsettled questions about the roster remain, including who will be the utility infielder, who will be the backup catcher, and how Mark Trumbo’s expected 1-2 week absence will be covered. Showalter didn’t say much about any of this today. There’s only six days until Opening Day, though, so the O’s will have to make up their minds soon.