O’s to open year with one of the youngest rotations in AL

In looking at the roster resource section of the FanGraphs.com website, we can note a few things about the start of the 2021 regular season. For one, the Orioles will have the youngest starting rotation in the American League East and the fourth-youngest in the AL.

With the understanding that this is a good resource for roster information and usually very accurate, yes, there could be a pitcher or two not listed where they should be. But they got all five in the Baltimore rotation correct.

The youngest rotations in the AL are:

25.4 years - Cleveland
27.6 years - Detroit
27.7 years - Oakland
27.9 years - Orioles

Thumbnail image for Zimmermann-Pitch-White-ST-sidebar.jpgCleveland and Kansas City are listed as beginning the year with four-man rotations. That could well be temporary as they take advantage of an early off-day or days. Seattle and the Los Angeles Angels are listed with six-man rotations. The Angels will have former Orioles as their No. 1 (Dylan Bundy) and No. 3 (Alex Cobb) pitchers.

Here is a look at what is projected for the AL East:

Baltimore, average age 27.9 - John Means, Matt Harvey, Bruce Zimmermann, Jorge López, Dean Kremer.

Boston, average age 30.0 - Nate Eovaldi, Garrett Richards, Martin Pérez, Nick Pivetta, Eduardo Rodríguez.

New York, average age 30.4 - Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Corey Kluber, Domingo Germán, Jordan Montgomery.

Tampa Bay, average age 32.0 - Tyler Glasnow, Ryan Yarbrough, Chris Archer, Michael Wacha, Rich Hill.

Toronto, average age 31.1 - Hyun-Jin Ryu, Ross Stripling, Steven Matz, Tanner Roark, Anthony Kay.

The Orioles, Rays and Red Sox are listed as beginning the year with a three-man bench. But there is just one team outside of the division, and that is in Seattle, going with three players. The rest are listed as having four-man benches.

Spring training is happily in our rear-view mirror and opening day is now just a day away. But some noteworthy things happened under the Florida sun.

Best development of spring: Trey Mancini back on a ball field. We don’t need to add much or explain this. He’s back, he looked great and that is great. Yay for Trey.

Spring disappointment: Keegan Akin goes on this list as he was considered to have a nice edge for a rotation spot after pitching well at the end of last year. Inconsistent control and command have hurt him before - he has a career 4.1 minor league walk rate - and he needs to find himself at the alternate site and later Triple-A if he is on the team there in May. We certainly have not seen the last of Akin, and I would fully expect he gets another chance this year. But other young pitchers are getting closer and closer and the O’s are reaching the point where they are going to be in direct competition. I think this lefty still has some good days ahead of him at the big league level.

Spring surprise: Zimmermann. The hometown kid made good. Nine scoreless innings and only one hit? Yeah, stunning. So, to an extent, was when he gave up seven runs in one outing, but lucky for the lefty it came too late to change the fact he will start the third game. Under pitching coach Chris Holt, Zimmermann has been a real student of the analytics and it made him better. He’s got four pitches he can throw. He said he will both learn from the start on Monday against Tampa Bay and then flush it and move on to Boston. I think pitchers like Kremer and Zimmermann, along with talent, have the poise and confidence to withstand the bumps in the road that are going to be there for any young pitcher. No doubt fans from Loyola High and Towson University, not to mention O’s fans in general, will be pulling for the local kid to show his stuff.

Spring MVP: Austin Hays. He batted .392/.446/.745 and his OPS was 1.192. No Oriole with 10 or more at-bats came close to that. Hays’ talent is really unquestioned. In the minor leagues in 2017 he put together a full season where he was dominant at times, batting .329/.365/.593 with 32 doubles, 32 homers and 95 RBIs. He was a finalist for Baseball America National Player of the Year in a final group that included Ronald Acuña, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero. He was keeping good company. Could he put up such numbers in the majors? I think a healthy Hays could make a run at it. He is that rare Oriole that can beat the other team every night on both offense and defense and with his speed. This is what they mean by five-tool player. Knocking on wood as I type this for a healthy season to see what he truly can do.

The final record: It was 10-17-1. What does it mean? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. While some individual player performances were very notable and contributed to some winning or losing jobs, the team’s record doesn’t tell us much of anything.

And now we are finally just a day away from the start of a new season in Birdland.

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