As it is every year, to win, you need to have pitching. I am not sure the Orioles have an abundance of it right now -- at least arms that are very good. In fact, I don’t know what to think. One question I have on my mind is this: who in the world starts on Opening Day?
If I were a betting man, it would be Tommy Hunter; however, he's been dealing with some issues, but seems to be working down in Sarasota. Perhaps it might be Jake Arrieta, who saw some action during Opening Day last year.
There are a lot of pitchers who are in Sarasota right now. Like every year, you’ve got to wonder what will happen in the season ahead with the pitchers on in camp. So far, the pitching has been somewhat decent, but as we all, Spring Training results don't necessarily translate into the regular season.
Last year, the young arms faltered and once that happened, the Orioles were doomed. Depending on pitchers who lack major league experience is risky; however, when the vast majority of them suffer, the results are disastrous.
Jake Arrieta was hurt, but had his own issues; Brian Matusz – well, we all know what went on; Zach Britton had his ups and downs, Brad Bergesen was just bad & Chris Tillman could not pitch with any consistency. As well, Hunter started off a bit shaky, but steadily improved towards the end of the season. However, so far, Arrieta is healthy, Matusz looks reborn, Tillman had a good outing this weekend; meanwhile, Britton and Hunter are working their way back from their ailments.
The youngsters are on notice. They are all competing for jobs, and have to prove their worth. From what I see, everyone has a chance - still - to make the roster.
At this point, we shall see what happens.
That being said, Dan Duquette signed a few arms from Asia, but also looked for cheap solutions out on the market. He didn’t bring any marquee pitcher like a lot of fans – including myself – hoped, but a bunch of low-risk, high-reward guys.
At this point, considering how much the Orioles have to do to rebuild their system, Duquette is obviously taking a roll of the dice and hoping something develops from the sheer numbers of pitchers in camp.
I do know this, the Oriole pitchers - no matter who is on the mound - need to become more economical with their game plan out there.
Last year, there were way too many games where Baltimore starting pitchers reached 100 pitches before the fifth inning and had to rely on the bullpen. Teams like the Yankees and Red Sox took advantage and from time to time killed the Orioles. That needs to stop.
If the Oriole pitching can mitigate the 'big inning' and not allow too many baserunners, that would make a big difference in the results.
It’s this simple: the Orioles will only go as far their pitching takes them in 2012 – or any other year.