Orioles set five-man rotation, Mateo makes team, Henderson's role is defined

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Orioles set their rotation for the beginning of the season, and they’re ignoring the off-days and going with five starters.

Corbin Burnes is getting the ball for Opening Day against the Angels on March 28, followed by Grayson Rodriguez on March 30, Tyler Wells on March 31, Dean Kremer on April 1 against the Royals and Cole Irvin on April 2. Every game will be played at Camden Yards.

Wells appeared to be a bullpen candidate over the winter, but Kyle Bradish and John Means are headed to the injured list. Trading for Burnes didn’t push Wells back into a relief role.

Results also matter with Wells, who has allowed only two runs in 10 2/3 innings.

“We look at a little bit of everything – opponent, not only opponent first time but in the next few weeks, but also, he’s throwing the ball great,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “One of our best, if not the best starter in the first half last year, and for me he’s throwing the ball like that right now. We want to start him game three.”

Rodriguez posted a 2.58 ERA and 1.096 WHIP in 13 starts after the All-Star break last summer and entered camp as the favorite to follow Burnes to the mound.

“Because he did what he did in the second half, for me, he’s shown that for a couple month period that he can do it, that he can shut down good offenses and make really good starts for us,” Hyde said. “I want to believe that going into this year that that gave him some confidence and that he learned from some rough outings but also with his good outings, that he can pitch up here and he can pitch well. So I do have confidence that he’s going to get off to a good start for us.

“I think that’s important. Our rotation is a big key for us right now, and Grayson is a big part of that.”

Having five breaks in the schedule before May could have allowed the Orioles to go with a four-man rotation and carry a long reliever in the bullpen. But they chose to go with the more traditional alignment.

“It’s such a long year and I like to give guys extra rest when we can,” Hyde said.

Hyde also confirmed in his pregame media scrum that Jorge Mateo has made the club. Mateo is 12-for-35 (.343) with two doubles, two home runs, eight RBIs and a .996 OPS in 14 games.

The former Fielding Bible Award winner at shortstop will also play second base and can back up at all three outfield spots.

The Orioles haven’t settled on their entire 26-man roster and could bring extra players to Baltimore after breaking camp.

“We only have a few days left, so obviously we’re getting close,” Hyde said. “In the next couple days we’ll start making some tough decisions.”

Part of the internal discussion revolve around the possibility of carrying six or seven infielders and four or five outfielders.

“It all kind of depends on, Mateo’s going to make the team, so he offers us flexibility, and that’s why we played him a lot in the outfield in spring training,” Hyde said. “He’s done a lot of outfield stuff in spring training just to help with our versatility. We haven’t decided on that, but Mateo’s kind of the wild card in that, that he can play the outfield, also.”

Gunnar Henderson hasn’t played third base this spring after making 68 starts as a rookie last season, and he’s going to get the vast majority of his work at shortstop in 2024, with Mateo, Jordan Westburg and possibly Jackson Holliday capable of backing up. Westburg and Ramón Urías can share third, with the latter winning a Gold Glove at the position in 2022.

“I think he’s going to play primarily shortstop,” Hyde said of Henderson, “and a possibility of him moving there at some point, third base, if something arises in a game. But he’s going to primarily our shortstop.”

The Orioles didn’t make any roster cuts today but could do something after the game. They have 45 players in camp.

Henderson happy to stay at shortstop, Hyde impress...
Orioles and Red Sox lineups in Fort Myers

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.masnsports.com/