Orioles right-hander Kyle Gibson has been named the club’s Opening Day starter and will take the mound next Thursday afternoon at Boston’s Fenway Park. Gibson emerged as a potential favorite to get that call about midway through camp and continued to pitch well in spring games, and the first game now officially goes to him.
He has said the first starter of any series can be a tone-setter for that series. Gibson’s last game that counted was a scoreless inning in the 2022 World Series for Philadelphia against Houston. He said he doesn’t see getting the ball first as any designation of himself as the ace or even the No. 1 starter on this team.
“I think there’s maybe 15 aces in the league. There’s not 30,” he told reporters Friday in Sarasota. “So, for me, it’s just the chance to start a series off, and I think that first game of every series is really important, whether it’s the first series of the year or even in Texas. I mean, that first guy really kind of sets the tone for how that bullpen is used the next three games, until the next off-day, especially. So, I think for me, it’s just trying to go out there and be a veteran leader and try to set the tone for that first series of the year.
“It does mean a lot. I don’t want to downplay that, because it is cool. I’ve only been in uniform one time (during a game) my entire career on the first day of the season, so it is a big deal. It’s fun to be on the field for that first game, but it’s not necessarily something I came here and said, ‘OK, I want to work to be the Opening Day guy.' I knew there were things that I wanted to get better at along the way to make sure that over 30 starts that I was pitching how I wanted to pitch.”
Gibson did not face Boston last year. But in eight career starts, he is 3-4 with a 3.38 ERA over 50 2/3 innings versus the Red Sox. Boston batters have hit .208/.276/.328/.604 against Gibson.
Here are the Opening Day matchups involving American League East clubs:
* Orioles at Boston with Kyle Gibson (10-8, 5.05 ERA in 2022) against Corey Kluber (10-10, 4.34 ERA).
Kluber made six starts against the Orioles last year for Tampa Bay. He went 1-3 with a 5.64 ERA and 1.550 WHIP. The two-time Cy Young Award winner (2014, 2017) and three-time All-Star (2016-18) will be the first Red Sox hurler since David Price in 2016 to make his Boston debut with a start on Opening Day.
* Detroit at Tampa Bay with Eduardo Rodriguez (5-5, 4.05 ERA) against the Rays' Shane McClanahan (12-8, 2.54 ERA).
McClanahan will make his second career and second straight Opening Day start for the Rays. He will become the first Rays starter to receive consecutive Opening Day nods since Chris Archer made four straight from 2015-18. A former Oriole, Rodriguez will be making his second career OD start.
* San Francisco at New York Yankees with the Giants' Logan Webb (15-9, 2.90 ERA) against Gerrit Cole (13-8, 3.50 ERA).
Cole will make his fifth career Opening Day start and his fourth with the Yankees, becoming the 11th pitcher in franchise history to make at least four Opening Day starts with the club.
* Toronto at St. Louis with the Blue Jays' Alek Manoah (16-7, 2.24 ERA) against Miles Mikolas (12-13, 3.29 ERA).
Manoah will take the mound for his first career Opening Day start for the Blue Jays. The 2022 AL All-Star finished third in the AL Cy Young Award voting last season.
Still No. 1: The O's farm system got yet another recognition this week as the best in baseball. It was ranked No. 1 by MLBPipeline.com.
According to the outlet, this is the fourth consecutive time between preseason and midseason lists that the Orioles are No. 1. Since Pipeline began ranking systems in 2015, only one other organization has claimed No. 1 four times in a row, and that was the San Diego Padres (2018 pre/mid, 2019 pre/mid).
Here is how the article proclaiming the Orioles still No. 1 begins: "Many have come at the king. So far, they’ve still all missed."
The Orioles farm, per Pipeline, is king.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are ranked second, followed by Arizona, Cleveland and Cincinnati. Tampa Bay is No. 6, the New York Yankees are No. 13, Boston is No. 16 and Toronto comes in at No. 20.
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