It’s one of baseball’s most popular cliches, though I changed the punctuation for the title of this blog entry.
No matter how crowded the rotation, no matter how deep the depth, teams never feel as though they have enough pitching. Injuries happen. So do slumps.
The Orioles used 52 players last season, and half were pitchers. Yes, that’s 26.
Can you name them without looking it up? I’ll make it a little easier and remind you that Chris Davis counts as a pitcher with his one relief appearance.
Now you just need to come up with the other 25. Answer to follow.
I changed the punctuation on the blog entry because I haven’t surrendered the notion that the Orioles are able to re-sign Joe Sauders, which would really amp up the competition for the five spots in the rotation. There’s been no indication that they’ve pulled out of the running after agreeing to terms with right-hander Jair Jurrjens.
Saunders is still deciding on a team. The Virginia native really wants to remain with the Orioles, but probably not enough to settle for a lesser deal unless we’re talking loose change. Then again, he already could have taken the highest offer, which isn’t coming from the Orioles.
The simple addition of Jurrjens could squeeze a deserving starter out of the pitcher picture, forcing him to begin the season at Triple-A Norfolk. What happens if Saunders shows up in camp?
Well, for starters - see what I did there? - Jurrjens would have a much tougher time making the opening day roster. He has options remaining, so sending him down isn’t complicated. It also would put more pressure on Miguel Gonzalez to have a strong spring.
I’ve included Gonzalez in every mock rotation this winter, but he isn’t a lock. That honor goes to Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen. Chris Tillman is out of options, giving him an advantage over Gonzalez.
If Saunders stays, and we may actually find out before Memorial Day weekend, I would predict that he’d join a rotation that included Hammel, Chen, Gonzalez and Tillman.
(Did you come up with the other 25 starters from last season? Stop reading and get to it before I post the names at the bottom.)
Norfolk’s rotation could include Jurrjens, Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Steve Johnson and Zach Clark. It’s also possible, though not likely, that Brian Matusz would be optioned rather than return to his bullpen role. Maybe it depends on whether Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland joins Troy Patton in the ‘pen.
It’s also possible, though not likely, that Tsuyoshi Wada is ready to start when the Orioles break camp. He is, after all, ahead of schedule.
Just how far will be determined after we get to Sarasota, watch him throw and talk to manager Buck Showalter, pitching coach Rick Adair and Wada’s interpreter.
Tommy Hunter is out of options, so it’s the Orioles rotation, their bullpen or another team.
Am I forgetting anyone?
Perhaps now it’s easier to understand why Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are expected to begin the year at Double-A Bowie. Who would you drop down to the Eastern League to make room for them at Norfolk? And yes, I’m assuming that they don’t make the Orioles’ opening day roster, though they’ll give it the ol’ college (and prep) try.
Too much pitching, just enough or not enough?
OK, here’s the list of Orioles pitchers from 2012. I bet you forgot about Jason Berken, who made one appearance. I bet you included Brad Bergesen, who made none:
Jim Johnson (71)
Pedro Strop (70)
Darren O’Day (69)
Luis Ayala (66)
Troy Patton (54)
Kevin Gregg (40)
Brian Matusz (34)
Matt Lindstrom (34)
Tommy Hunter (33)
Wei-Yin Chen (32)
Jake Arrieta (24)
Jason Hammel (20)
Miguel Gonzalez (18)
Chris Tillman (15)
Dana Eveland (14)
Steve Johnson (12)
Zach Britton (12)
Joe Saunders (7)
Zach Phillips (6)
Miguel Socolovich (6)
Randy Wolf (5)
J.C. Romero (5)
Stu Pomeranz (3)
Dylan Bundy (2)
Jason Berken (1)
Chris Davis (1)
Shameless plug alert: I’m co-hosting “The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report” from 5-7 p.m. on MASN.