With their starting pitching in flux, O's begin key stretch tonight

Two of their starting pitchers are on the disabled list, although Miguel Gonzalez could be returning soon. Jason Hammel, who pitches tonight, has allowed 10 earned runs in 10 innings over his last two starts. Freddy Garcia has struggled in back-to-back starts. The rotation ERA is 6.37 over the last six games.

OK, the O's starting pitching is not exactly peaking right now. And here is the concern.

Tonight, the Orioles start a 10-game stretch against AL East opponents with three against Tampa and three against New York, followed by four at Toronto.

When that stretch ends, they play their next four games against Washington, followed by a three-game series with Detroit. That is one tough and testing 17-game stretch that starts tonight.

The O's rotation is springing a few leaks right now. Garcia lasted just 3 2/3 on Wednesday, and O's starters have pitched five innings or less in four of the last five games. They have one quality start in the past six games.

Bring on the Rays, Yankees, Jays, Nats and Tigers?

Guess we'll find out something about this team over this very tough stretch of games.

Last season, the Orioles used 12 total starters during the season, and that includes Randy Wolf and Dana Eveland, who made just two starts each. If Jair Jurrjens starts tomorrow as expected, he will already be the 10th different starter used, and it's mid May.

Starters used so far by AL East teams:
5: Tampa Bay
7: Boston and New York
9: Baltimore and Toronto

Did somebody say something about pitching depth? Guess we are going to find just how much of that the Orioles have.

Quick plug: I'll be on for a segment with Jim Hunter tonight during "O's Xtra" on MASN HD before the game talking about the Orioles minor leagues.

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