Notes on Harvey, rotation and opening day lineup

Right-hander Matt Harvey will start the second game of the season for the Orioles. He ended his five-inning outing Sunday against Pittsburgh allowing two runs and none over his last three innings.

“Overall, I mean, when you can go five innings, feel pretty strong through all five, I think that’s when you know you are ready,” he said.

Harvey kept getting better during camp. He looks ready. Over his last two games against the Yankees and Pittsburgh, he threw nine innings, allowing three runs.

Harvey said some of the work he was doing, not always just in games - the between-starts work - was pretty critical for him.

“Really knowing we had put the work in between starts and being able to go out there and really not try to think about it and just attack and pitch and ultimately get guys out (was big). Like I said, a lot of times in the last couple years, I wasn’t really that satisfied or happy with how things went between outings, bullpen-wise, but we did good work in between (this spring),” he said. “That’s when we really focused on nailing down the mechanics, what pitch shapes we wanted in certain counts and how to attack guys. And then, my job was to go out and trust that that work was there and that it was good. Then just go out and pitch.”

We’ll see how it all looks when Harvey pitches in the second game in Boston and beyond that, but he probably surprised quite a few people in the sport by making the rotation. He pitched to a 7.82 ERA over the last two years with the Angels and Royals, but now is poised to do potentially considerably better for the Orioles.

You have to wonder if Harvey will become a fan favorite if he pitches well. He is lined up to pitch the home opener on April 8 against Boston. Maybe he can even help the young pitchers along the way.

Pending what happens with Félix Hernández, the O’s will start the year with two of the three veterans (including Wade LeBlanc) that were signed to minor league deals on the roster. And not because they are just trying to eat innings, but because they pitched their way on.

Does Kremer get the Yankees?: In setting up his rotation, perhaps manager Brandon Hyde took a strong look at matchups and results from last year. We know that John Means, Harvey and Bruce Zimmermann will go in the first three games against Boston. Zimmermann pitched just twice last year, but once was against Boston and he allowed one run over four innings.

Kremer-Throws-Orange-ST-Sidebar.jpgWe don’t know the rest of the rotation yet but could we see the club use Dean Kremer and Jorge López in the Yankees series that follows the Boston series? If we do, Hyde is no doubt very aware that Kremer and López made a combined three starts versus New York last year, allowing two earned runs over 16 innings and Yankees batters hit .143 (8-for-56) against them.

Kremer’s first two major league starts were against New York and he went 11 innings, allowing five hits and two runs. He walked six and fanned 14. The first two big league batters he faced were DJ LeMahieu, who hit .364 with an OPS of 1.011 for the 2020 season, and Luke Voit, who hit 22 homers in the shortened season with an OPS of .948. Kremer fanned LeMahieu with a 95 mph fastball and Voit with a 77 mph curveball. In the two games, on Sept. 6 and 12, New York batters hit .135 (5-for-37) against him.

López faced the Yankees on Sept. 4 and gave up three runs (none earned) and three hits over five innings. They went 3-for-19 (.158) against him.

These are small samples - but good samples - for the Orioles. Hyde would like to see his team get off to a good start and they are playing their first nine against Boston and New York. We don’t even know if this is how the pitchers will go after the season-opening series at Fenway Park. But you can make a case for Kremer and López joining Means for that series in the Bronx.

For openers: Taking a guess at the opening day lineup against Boston’s Nate Eovaldi, who is 6-1 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.500 WHIP in 12 career starts against the Orioles. But in three starts last year ,he went 3-0 with an ERA of 0.95 and WHIP of 1.053. He had four wins in 2020, three against Baltimore.

CF Cedric Mullins
RF Anthony Santander
DH Ryan Mountcastle
1B Trey Mancini
LF Austin Hays
3B Maikel Franco
C Pedro Severino
2B Pat Valaika or Ramón Urías
SS Freddy Galvis

Valaika may have the edge to get the start. He is 3-for-5 with a homer off Eovaldi.

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