A look at the process of evaluating the fifth starter candidates

SARASOTA, Fla. - As manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair go about sizing up the large field of candidates to win the Orioles’ fifth starter’s job, you know Showalter must be evaluating a lot of things. For him, it is certainly more than just about the stats.

“There’s a lot of things,” Showalter said. “Let’s face it, the first time they throw a side (session) on the back field in February, you’re getting feedback. That’s human nature, we’re watching. You guys come in and say, ‘So and so looked like he was throwing good.’ You’re watching. So there are a lot of things.

“I look a lot at the other team. Hitters’ reactions to them. I like to watch their dugout when (Mark) Hendrickson is going. Whether there is a buzz. I watch when (Dylan) Bundy and (Kevin) Gausman get through with a hitter. They’ll tell you. There’s a lot of different things.

“Watch between innings. Gaus had a tough inning. I want to see how he reacted coming off the mound and in the dugout. Between innings, whatever. Same way with Bundy.

“I want them to be as proactive and not reactive if something goes wrong. The only way to do that is get them out there and let them have some failure out there on things that are not necessarily pitching.

“But they have good aptitude and both of them don’t like to fail. They don’t go, ‘Well, it’s just one of those things.’ They don’t use their age and experience as an excuse.”

Because Showalter mentioned the young duo, I don’t think we should read into it that they are strong candidates to win a starting rotation job come opening day, but it’s clear Showalter sees great value in having them here and hey, there still here.

Zach Britton is up next in the pitching competition, getting the start here this afternoon against Boston. He gave up one run in two innings in his last outing, Monday against Pittsburgh. In seven innings in spring games, he has allowed nine hits and five runs with one walk and six strikeouts.

Through spring training so far, what is your take on the battle for the fifth starter’s job?

By the way, as you can see here with Jim Hunter’s picture, we’re concentrating hard on the tasks at hand in Sarasota.

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