DUNEDIN, Fla. - Orioles manager Brandon Hyde still doesn’t yet know or is not ready to announce anything for his starting pitching rotation beyond Alex Cobb as opening day starter and that the next two will be Andrew Cashner and Dylan Bundy in some order.
But asked today again if the Orioles would consider the use of an opener, Hyde didn’t say yes or no, just that it is an option and remains on the table at this point.
“We are talking about a lot of different things,” Hyde said before today’s game with Toronto. “I know I’ve been vague about what we will do after the first three days of the season. That is because we are still discussing what we’ll do after those three days. Nothing yet solidified on the back end of our rotation or how we’ll use our bullpen. Still yet to be determined.”
Which pitchers profile as possible openers?
“I’m not going to get into specifics, but I think we have a lot of guys that do,” he said. “In the opener situation, if you are facing a lefty-hitting team, you want a left-handed starter that might get six outs out of it and then go from there. Kind of how Tampa did last year. We’ve talked about possibly doing those type of things, but we haven’t even discussed who would that be or how the order would be. Those are still a long ways away for us.”
Hyde said the decision on if to use an opener would be based on a combination of the opponent’s projected lineup and the pitchers he has that he feels would be right for the job. The Yankees for instance, have a right-handed heavy lineup.
“So if you were going to use an opener against the Yankees it would probably be a right-hander,” said Hyde, adding you could still do that and follow with a usual starting pitcher that is also right-handed.
With Cashner starting Monday versus Detroit and Bundy on Tuesday versus Minnesota, those pitchers could line up that way when the season starts, with Cashner pitching before Bundy. But that is not set yet.
“We still haven’t decided and are not ready to announce the (starting) five yet,” Hyde said. “That is just kind of how their days lined up. We can play with some things because of the off days. We still have some questions on the last two. So we’re still piecing that together on what we are doing for the fourth and fifth games of the season.”
The Orioles will not need a fifth starter for the first time until the sixth game of the season, April 3 at Toronto, the final game of that second three-game series.
Hyde was asked how built up pitch-wise he would like his starters to be by the end of spring training.
“You like to see them, in a best-case scenario, in the 80-85 range,” he said. “These days (early in the season) are a little bit different. There are more off-days in April. We can be creative with some things where the fourth and fifth starters could come out of the ‘pen the first day. So you are not having to really extend guys the first few games of the year. We still have a big (roster) number we are trying to whittle down here over the next week.”
Hyde was asked today if he looks much at spring stats.
“Not really. I probably couldn’t tell you anyone’s ERA or strikeout or walk percentage or probably batting average either. I do know at-bats and innings, but not specific stats,” he said noting he was actually surprised at few stats when he recently watched a replay of an Orioles game on MLB Network.
“I am not checking the numbers. I just know how many at-bats they are getting and the quality of their at-bats,” said Hyde.
Cobb, who starts the opener March 28 at New York, starts here today versus Toronto and is making his third spring appearance. Also scheduled to pitch are John Means, Cody Carroll, Evan Phillips and Tanner Scott.
Scoreless early: The Orioles and a Toronto Blue Jays split squad have played three scoreless innings at Dunedin Stadium. Cobb has retired all nine batters he has faced with five strikeouts. And he pitched from the stretch in the second and third innings. Richie Martin doubled in the O’s third to snap an 0-for-13, but was stranded at third base.
O’s get lead: The Orioles moved ahead 2-0 in the fourth on RBI doubles by Renato Núñez and Stevie Wilkerson. Mark Trumbo, playing in his third game, walked and scored the first run. It was a bit of a test for his surgically repaired right knee, going first to home. Jace Peterson replaced Núñez at third base in the last of the fourth. Núñez has a bruised left shin as a result of a foul ball when he was batting on Thursday.
Game now tied: The Orioles added to the lead, making it 3-0, but left the bases loaded in the fifth. Chance Sisco drew a bases-loaded walk for his 11th RBI. Trumbo was pinch-run for, but not before his first spring hit, a high chopper to third for an infield single. He is 1-for-6.
Toronto was hitless versus Cobb through four innings but scored three runs with two outs and none on in the fifth for a 3-3 tie. The rally started with an infield hit near the third base line by Jonathan Davis and Cobb’s throwing error on the play sent him to second. Three run-scoring hits followed to tie it up.
Cobb is done for the day going five innings on four hits and three runs with no walks and eight strikeouts. He will probably make one more start before opening day. John Means will pitch the sixth.
Hays goes deep: Austin Hays homered in the eighth for a 4-3 Orioles lead. It’s his fifth homer of the spring.
Orioles win: Cody Carroll stranded the potential tying run at second base in the last of the ninth, fanning Reese McGuire to secure a 4-3 Orioles win.