Another round of rotation talk and who'd start Opening Day

Left-handers Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery remain on the free-agent market but are viewed as too pricey for the Orioles. The contract length and dollars don’t work for them.

The club is linked to Marcus Stromen in various reports, whether due to serious or surface interest. Could be ongoing talks or tire kicking.

Could be an attempt to stick another team into the conversation besides the Yankees.

A recent article on this site spurred a discussion over a No. 1 starter and whether anyone should slot ahead of Kyle Bradish. And more specific, in comparison to the White Sox’s Dylan Cease if the Orioles managed to acquire him in a trade.

Cease was 14-8 with a 2.20 ERA and 1.109 WHIP in 32 starts in 2022 and finished second in American League Cy Young voting. Bradish was 4-7 with a 4.90 ERA and 1.402 WHIP in 23 starts as a rookie.

Cease went 7-9 with a 4.58 ERA and 1.418 WHIP last year in 33 starts, his hard-hit percentage jumped from 31.2 to 41.5, his BABIP rose from .260 to .330, and his velocity decreased. Bradish went 12-7 with a 2.83 ERA and 1.043 WHIP in 30 starts and finished fourth in Cy Young voting.

Is 2024 the tie-breaker?

There are three scenarios if the Orioles add a starter. He’s brought in to pitch on Opening Day, he’s brought in to fill out the rotation, or the outcome is decided in camp.

Kyle Gibson’s signing to a one-year deal last winter came with the assumption that he’d work in the backend of the rotation, but he earned the Opening Day assignment based on spring training results and experience. Bradish wasn’t a consideration. Grayson Rodriguez hadn’t pitched in the majors. John Means hadn’t recovered from Tommy John surgery.

The 2022 Cease would be an easier call this season. The 2022 Bradish wouldn’t be in the discussion. But a lot has changed.

The Orioles obviously hold Cease in high regard or they wouldn’t bother talking to the White Sox, whose asking price in December threatened to scare away teams. But why not? He has a track record and two years of control remaining.

Shoot for the moon.

Or Jackson Holliday.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias signed reliever Craig Kimbrel at the Winter Meetings and named him closer on the spot. My guess is that Cease would compete for the Opening Day assignment.

Maybe it’s too soon for Rodriguez with a half-season of impressive starts on his resume. Maybe. But Bradish started Game 1 of the Division Series and isn’t backing down from anybody. He’s got to think that he deserves to stand on the mound March 28 against the Angels.

I also can picture Means saying, “Hold my protein shake.”

Means was the Opening Day starter in 2021-22 and scratched in 2020 due to a tired arm. He’s back to reclaim the throne, or at least attempt it.

Today’s question: Would Cease automatically become the Opening Day starter if the Orioles get him?

Do the Orioles have enough pitching as the roster ...
O's could face challenges to match their run outpu...

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