As spring training approaches, the Orioles’ five-man starting rotation is not set. But pitchers like Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez seem close to locks to be in the opening day starting five, and Chris Tillman may be on that list, as well.
At FanFest, O’s pitching coach Rick Adair addressed his rotation’s current state.
“There are probably three or four guys we feel good about in the rotation and there are other guys that can be in the rotation,” Adair said. “We hope Hammel is healthy and Chen, the 200 innings doesn’t really show up on him. Tilly is out of options, but pitched well the second half. We feel good about the depth we have.
“Competition (for spots last season) was great. I think everyone knows where everyone is. Some are locked in, some are out of options. There will be good competition and the guys know it.”
After a stunning season in which he went 9-4 with an ERA of 3.25 ERA and 10 quality starts among 15 outings, can Gonzalez pitch that well again?
“I think Miguel is stronger,” Adair said. “He’s spent about two months with Brady (Anderson) in California. I don’t see any issue. Buck did a tremendous job of spreading him out (his starts) last year. Sometimes six or seven or even 10days between starts. Over a calendar year, counting winter ball and through the season, he pitched over 220 innings. So we’ve got to be a little careful, but he’s in good shape, is stronger and feels real good about where he is.”
The Orioles had several pitchers take part in a mini-camp at Camden Yards last week and Adair said it went well. He’s pleased how his staff looks heading to Sarasota.
“I think there is a confidence and familiarity with the guys now. I feel real good about their mindset and where they are physically. Everybody was real solid in the mini-camp. It was a comforting feeling,” he said.
“Honestly, it didn’t feel like we left. You didn’t spend that much time apart and we’d talked to the pitchers a lot over the winter.”
One pitcher who could join that staff is former Oriole Mark Hendrickson, who last pitched for the club in 2011, when he went 1-0 with a 5.73 ERA in eight games. The Orioles have had the 6-foot-9 lefty experiment throwing sidearm and even with an arm slot lower than that at times. It’s an experiment that could be carried over into spring training, it appears.
“It’s an interesting idea and concept,” Adair said. “He adapted to what we were thinking really much better than I thought. He threw two sessions, one on Monday and one on Wednesday. There is something there.”
Top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy got into one game in spring training last March. This time around he’ll certainly get a longer look.
“He’ll get more innings in spring training than he did last year. We all are eager to see him,” Adair said.