Roster balance and versatility

Andy MacPhail's announcement that the Orioles will go with a 12 man pitching staff on the Opening Day roster still gives the O's an extra arm if needed in the early season games.

If the O's decide to keep the top four starters on normal rest in the rotation, the April schedule would allow Dave Trembley and Rick Kranitz to have the 5th starter available for long relief in several of the games in the first month.

Jeremy Guthrie and Koji Uehara, the top two starters will each get five starts in April. Whoever is slotted into the #3 spot will also get five April starts and the 4th starter will get four starts.

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The Orioles would need the 5th starter for only three games in April if the top four starters pitch on turn. The dates the 5th starter would pitch are April 12 vs Tampa Bay; April 21st vs Chicago; and April 26 vs Texas.

This would give Trembley and Kranitz the option of also using the 5th starter in long relief, giving the O's a 3rd long man for many of the early season games as insurance for short outings by the other four starters. It would also allow the O's to keep George Sherrill, Chris Ray, Jim Johnson, Jamie Walker and Dennis Sarfate in the roles.

There are different philosophies for starting rotations. Some teams pitch their five starters in order all season, regardless of off days. This keeps each pitcher on a routine and, over the course of the season, gives each pitcher additional rest. Many teams however prefer to skip the 5th starter to keep the top four pitchers on turn.

The rotation will be a work in progress all season, with the expected promotions of some of the O's top prospects sometime this season. Andy MacPhail is sticking with his plan of patience. It's now up to the prospects to force the issue by pitching well in the minor leagues.

The Opening Day roster is memorable because it's the beginning. But you can expect it will continue to turn over during the season.

Hope to see you at FanFest on Saturday, and then at the ballpark on Monday for the season opener. Let the games begin....