A noticeable shift is likely going to take place between now and this time next year for the Baltimore Orioles pitching staff. All of the young arms, the members of the so-called Cavalry, are all but out of options to be sent back to the minor leagues.
With a new pitching coach in Dave Wallace, and a new bullpen coach in Dom Chiti, the Birds have some tough decisions to make. If they were putting a rotation together now, which is unrealistic considering free agency just started, it would probably look something like this:
That means some of the names in the bullpen would include former starters, most notably Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter and Zach Britton. And, we haven’t talked about Kevin Gausman, who could be knocking on the door of the rotation with another excellent spring training, and Dylan Bundy, who could be ready for the majors by the end of the year if his rehab continues to go well.
Matusz has expressed a desire to be a starter, but he has been quite successful in his role as a lefty specialist, just look at his work against David Ortiz.
Hunter has also been good in a situational set-up role with Darren O’Day.
Britton, on the other hand, hasn’t shown he can make that transition to being a major league pitcher. We have seen glimpses of his ability, but the time is quickly running out.
Roch Kubatko of the MASN Orioles blog wrote earlier this week that someone from inside the organization has mentioned “shuffling the deck” in the bullpen. That would likely mean that spring training is going to be a last chance for some of these players to prove what they can do.
Looking at the above starting rotation, I don’t think anyone expects McFarland to be a starter in the rotation when the 2014 season begins. A rotation spot will likely go to a free agent like Scott Feldman, Matt Garza, Jason Vargas, Bronson Arroyo, or Tim Hudson.
No one is going to know Hudson much better than Dave Wallace does, and I believe his experience could be invaluable to the Orioles young pitchers.
Feldman is a possible candidate to return, depending on how many years he is offered, as previously discussed here. Vargas is frequently tied to the Orioles, and as a lefty, is intriguing. Garza and Arroyo are two All-Star, veteran pitchers who would once again provide experience for the Orioles staff, but in a different way than Hudson would.
Who do you want to see fill out the starting rotation in 2014? And what should the Birds do with Matusz, Hunter and Britton?