Could this guy be a surprise candidate for the 2014 rotation?

The Orioles have a young pitcher on their roster who could be a candidate for next year’s starting rotation. He is only 24. He’s left-handed. And he now has a year of major league experience under his belt.

T.J. McFarland went 4-1 with a 4.22 ERA this season and he finished well, going 3-0 with an 0.80 ERA in 10 September innings and pitching in some key spots.

As a Rule 5 pick from Cleveland in December 2012, McFarland could have been returned to the Indians at any point during the season, but he made it all the way to the end and now becomes another young hurler to add to the club’s organizational pitching depth.

“The whole year I was kind of on the edge of my seat,” McFarland said. “With the Rule 5 thing, there was always a chance I could be sent back. I tried not to look down the road a month or two months, just at today and when is the next time I’ll throw. Fortunately, Baltimore saw something in me and I continued to show that to them all year.

“It’s been a great season. First year under my belt. Got more comfortable with being out there and pitching to certain hitters. Just build from that.”

What did he learn during his first year in the majors?

“It’s a long list,” McFarland said. “The main thing was just learning how to pitch. In the minor leagues, I relied on one thing and that was the sinker. Just kind of threw it down the middle. Here you have to pitch better and be smarter. That was the biggest thing I learned this year, just how to pitch to hitters.”

McFarland was a starter over five seasons in the minors until pitching out of the bullpen this year. He finished with 74 2/3 innings and if he is going to be a starter next year at Triple-A or for the Orioles, he will need to build that total up somewhat before next season. He plans to do that by pitching some winter ball in Venezuela.

“I want to get over 100 (innings). From there, it will go on how I feel. The whole point is to add more so I can come into spring training with different options in terms of what I can do,” McFarland said.

He went 16-8 with a 4.03 ERA in 27 starts over 163 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2012 in the Cleveland organization. Coming into this season, McFarland had made 116 appearances in the minors, 107 as starter.

Does he have a goal to be a starter in 2014?

“I do. That is always going to be a goal of mine to start, because I know I can. I just need to show them. Any chance to further my career as a starter, I’m going to do it,” he said.

Could McFarland be a starter for the 2014 Orioles?

Here is the list of pitchers and number of starts they made for the club in 2013:

33 - Chris Tillman
28 - Miguel Gonzalez
23 - Wei-Yin Chen and Jason Hammel
15 - Scott Feldman
10 - Freddy Garcia
9 - Bud Norris
7 - Zach Britton
5 - Jake Arrieta and Kevin Gausman
1 - Steve Johnson, Jair Jurrjens, T.J. McFarland and Josh Stinson

What is your take?: What will the 2014 rotation look like? Could a reliever like Brian Matusz or Jim Johnson be tried in the rotation? Do the O’s need to add someone from outside the organization? Will Feldman and/or Hammel return? Can anyone from the minors factor in?

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