Today, Freddy Garcia starts for the Orioles and when he does, he will become the eight different pitcher to start for the team this year. At this point last season, the Orioles had made no rotation changes and were still working with the five-man rotation that began 2012 with the team.
Then the order, beginning with opening day, was Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, Jason Hammel, Brian Matusz and Wei-Yin Chen. Through this date last season, that group had made all the starts for the club.
Today, the Orioles will already be on their fourth pitcher trying to nail down the fifth starter’s job following Arrieta, Josh Stinson and Zach Britton.
So is that a good thing or not?
It obviously would be best for the club to have someone pitch well and nail down that spot in the rotation. But while they seek that person, is the best move to have a “next man up” philosophy?
Some might opine that some of these pitchers need more than one chance to show their stuff. Or is a one-and-done approach fine and, hey, this team is looking to make the playoffs here, so should it be pitch well or they’ll get the next guy?
Arrieta, Stinson and Britton are a combined 1-2 with an ERA of 7.34 over six starts. Britton’s six-inning outing, where he gave up six runs, was the longest by a fifth starter. The three have yet to produce even one quality start. Garcia will try to put an end to that today and at least ensure himself a second chance at the fifth spot.
So what is best for the club? Should the O’s give someone time to make several starts to impress or is the one-and-done approach the way to go?
Merullo in Aberdeen: Any day spent in the sun at Ripken Stadium is a good day and I enjoyed an afternoon there today as the Aberdeen IronBirds held their annual preseason Fan Day, which included a Q&A for fans that I hosted with new short-season Single-A Aberdeen manager Matt Merullo.
Merullo is an impressive guy who is a former big league catcher with the White Sox, Indians and Twins. He once spent time in Sarasota, Fla., training with the White Sox and is back now on the O’s minor league staff.
He explained that he first met Dan Duquette through his grandfather, Lennie, a shortstop for the Cubs in the 1940s, who turns 96 tomorrow. Lennie was on the major league scouting bureau at a time when a young man, Duquette, was looking to get into scouting and the elder Merullo passed on some tips to the kid. Many years later, that kid would hire Lennie’s grandson to manage his farm team in Aberdeen. As the baseball world turns.
Over the next few days, I’ll provide some comments from Merullo, who is among the staff members that has been running the Orioles’ extended spring training operation since early last month and will continue in that role until the IronBirds season begins in June.