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February 1, 2011

Who will be in the Orioles' rotation to begin 2011?

The assumption is that if Justin Duchscherer is healthy he’ll be in the Orioles rotation.

His first Orioles’ test literally comes Wednesday when he has his physical in Baltimore. He made it to town late Tuesday night, battling some terrible flying weather to get here.

The 33-year-old has shown he can be an extremely effective starter (3.01 ERA in 32 big-league starts) when he can remain on the field.

For this exercise, let’s assume he does. Pencil him into the rotation with Jeremy Guthrie, likely the Opening Day starter, and lefty Brian Matusz. My guess is Brad Bergesen is in the rotation as well, which means Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman will fight for the fifth spot.

From where I sit in early February, I think Arrieta wins that battle and the 22-year-old Tillman goes back to Triple-A to work on his consistency and join Zach Britton for a nice 1-2 punch for the Tides.

So many things can change between now and then. I get that. But let’s make the call now and see how it plays out. Give me your starting rotation for 2011. Enumerate them if you like. And tell me why you came to your conclusion if you want.

Daily Think Special: Who will make up the Orioles’ five-man rotation to start 2011?

Posted by Dan Connolly at 11:45 PM | | Comments (72)
Categories: Connolly's Corner Sports Bar
        

Comments

Guthrie
Duchscherer
Matusz
Arrieta
Bergesen

Assuming they all stay healthy thru ST (which I know is a doubt with Duke), I don't have any doubt in this. Tillman is the guy who needs more AAA starts, and Britton will come up midseason (10-15 starts in about) if he keeps pwning.

I think you have it right. Can't really dispute your assessment.

Any truth to the rumor that the Rays might move Damon to 1B and sign Guerrero to be their DH?

--
Always a possibility. With his value dropping, I'm sure several teams have considered creative ways to make him fit.

Guthrie
Matusz
Arrieta
Duchsherer
Bergesen

With this staff, Guthrie deserves the #1 status. Hopefully, he can get better run support this year, which is why signing Guerrero is important (save this for a rainy day in Florida). I think Matusz will prove he is more than capable of securing the #2 slot. Arrieta and Duchsherer are a toss up but I think Arrieta gets the nod in the third slot because he is more of a "power" arm following a lefty and Duchsherer is a "crafty righty" coming behind a "power" arm. It may prove effective if they are behind each other in the same series. Bergesen may benefit the most from the new infield make-up but he may ne the 5th starter. I am hard pressed to move Duchsherer up to the 2nd slot. Here is a guy who hasn't pitched with anger in more than a year. Is he really better than Matusz or Arrieta right now? Let's see how spring training wraps up.

What do you think Showalter wants out of his starters based upon the arms joining the bullpen? Of course he would love to see every starter throw a 27-pitch complete game no-hitter but realistically, is he looking for six or seven innings based upon the bullpen make-up?

--
If a starter can go 7, that'd be great. I think Showalter would be the happiest man alive if every starter pitched into the seventh every time. And the Orioles -- or any team for that matter -- would be very good. With such a young cadre of starters, though, don't expect that.

1 Guthrie
2 Matusz
3 Bergesen
4 Duchscherer
5 Arrieta

The only way Jake doesn't make the team is if he needs surgery for the bone spur. I don't think Tillman is ready to be a starter. I am not giving up on him, but he's not ready.

Dan, why don't the O's let Tillman spend some time in the pen? I don't think he's a reliever for life, but wouldn't it be better for him to face big league hitters than dominate AAA hitters? Hughes did for the Yanks and Duchscherer did it for the A's so there are some positive results for letting a young guy get his feet wet in the pen.

--
Todd: Excellent question. That's the old school way. It's just not done that way very often these days. I guess the investment involved has something to do with that. At this point I have not heard any talk about Tillman inany role besides starter. He is only 22 after all.

Guthrie
Matusz
Bergesen
Duchscherer
Arrieta

1.Guthrie
2.Matusz
3.Duchscherer
4.Bergesen
5.Arrieta

I am with those who say you nailed it perfectly. I am hoping though that Tillman and Britton get shots sooner rather than later.

Guthrie
Matusz
Duchscherer
Bergesen
Tillman

I know I'm gonna get bashed for including Tillman and not Arrieta. But Tillman has completely dominated AAA and keeping him there seems to make no sense to me. Arrieta has pitched a lot fewer AAA innings, and I feel that it would be more beneficial for him to log some more innings in AAA than Tillman.

Guthrie, Matusz BERGENSEN DUSCHERER ARIETTA I THINK MAYBE LOOK AT BERKEN OR JOHNSON AND VANDENHURK , PLAN TO STARTTILLMAN AND BRITTON AT NORFOLK UNTIL NEEEDED OR THEY FORCE YOU DOMINATING THERE.

I think Guthrie should be the starter for the first game of the season . He should have that honor . After that I think you can play with the rotation in many ways. This is a good group of kids that can pitch . Let me say this . They can't let up even a little bit . They need to finish what they started . It's easy to get there , but much harder to stay there . Curt S.S. MD

Guthrie
Duchscherer
Matusz
Bergesen
Arrieta

I think Tillman forces himself into the rotation at some point during the season. It will be a nice change this year with players having to earn spots instead of getting penned in because there aren't any other options.

Guthrie
Matusz
Bergesen
Millwood
Duchsherer

(Arrieta & Tillman join Britton at AAA for a VERY GOOD 1,2,3 and enabling better Majors depth as the season plays out.)

Guthrie
Matusz
Millwood
Bergeson
Tillman

I don't see the Duke lasting. Would much rather have Millwood, and still would. I know he'll be there at the end of the season. We need stability more than a hope. I think Tillman will beat out Arrieta

Matusz
Guthrie
Duchsherer
Arrieta
Bergesen

While many think that Guthrie is the #1 hands down, I believe that Matusz earns the spot in spring training.

Britton is a guy who could shake this up as well.

This team had a chance to really compete this year. It would have only taken 2-3 more signings to become significant in the American League.
(Brandon Webb, V.Guerrero, B.Sheets)

1)Guthrie
2)Matusz
3)Millwood
4)Duchscherer
5)Bergesen

Tillmand & Arrieta in AAA Norfolk

I agree with this prediction. Isn't it great to have a problem where you may have too many starters and "need" to send someone down.!!! Hopefully the days of picking up the "Adam Eatons" are gone!!! LETS GO Os!!!

Guthrie,Matusz,& Bergesen, make good #3,#4,, but this team could've made some noise in the American League with a
#1 & #2
With this staff we can only hope for 4th place, unless Tillman, Arrieta, & Britton blow us away with incredible unforeseen progress in 2011

Don't know if the placement of Right/Lefties in your rotation really makes a difference when you only have one Lefty. In any event, my rotation would be as follows;

Guthrie (R)
Matusz (L)
Duchsherer (R)
Arrieta (R)
Bergesen (R)

Tillman (R) and Britton (L) at TIDES-AAA to begin the season and maybe join the team back-end. Would like to see the O's make a decision on Tillman and stop sending him up and down so much...but hey, I'm just a fan, what would I know.

I wouldnt put Duchsherer in my hypothetical rotatation.. 2 hip operations, elbow, depression,, really,, really? Yet another Mcphail cheap-out which what he does best,, ie, Derrick Lee.. Those gambles are fine when the rest of your team is a contender, but you cant depend on them. Where's the plan for 1B- no one in the farm system and you know that Fielder/Puljois arent coming here. Where is the influx from international scouting--zippo

I don"t know why the fans are so excited over Duchsherer. Should never have signed him. Every year its the same thing. We need an inning eater. Tired of that excuse. Let the young guys pitch.
Guthrie
Matusz
Arrieta
Tillman
Bergesen

Dan I'd agree with your take on the rotation. Tillman needs to add another pitch to be successful in the majors, his fastball is straight and predictable. In the minors he can just heave it by most guys, in the majors they're sitting on that thing.

I heard he was working on a cutter, the strength training could also add a little late life to his fastball. It's amazing to me that some guys make it all the way through the minors and have never worked with a couple of different grips on their fastball to change it's action.

Anyway he ought to work on that a little in the minors instead of the ML rotation.

Britton needs to stay down until at least June for a couple of reasons. It gives the O's an extra year before he gets to file for FA. And he could still use some work on an off speed pitch. He's got a great hard sinking fastball, he needs a little better changeup to set people up.

I really do think he's the "real deal" though, it will be nice to have two effective LH pitchers in the O's rotation.

I wouldnt put Duchsherer in my hypothetical rotatation.. 2 hip operations, elbow, depression,, really,, really? Yet another Mcphail cheap-out which what he does best,, ie, Derrick Lee.. Those gambles are fine when the rest of your team is a contender, but you cant depend on them. Where's the plan for 1B- no one in the farm system and you know that Fielder/Puljois arent coming here. Where is the influx from international scouting--zippo

How many times has dspedden been told that Ben Sheets is out for the year?

And how is Brandon Webb, a mid 80's finesse guy who has missed most of the past two seasons. a better option than Justin Duchscherer, a mid 80's finesse guy who has missed most of the past two seasons?

Sure, Webb certainly has a better history of success than Duke, but that was how many surgeries ago? Webb is just as big of a gamble as Duke at this point.

As always with this type of column, you ask your readers a question and then answer it for us before we have a chance to respond. Seriously, dude, read what you wrote. "What is better, ice cream or pie? I prefer ice cream. Ice cream is better. Probably ice cream. Could be pie, but really not. But what do you readers think?" What if I saw your headline, "Who Will Be the Rotation" and my first thought was honestly Tillman-Millwood-Duscherer-Guthrie-Hendrickson? That's a dumb answer, so you rule it out before the quiz begins. But if you're going to rule out all the dumb answers, then why have the quiz at all? Just asking.

--
Because I am not right. I just have an opinion. And as you can see from this discussion, some agree, some don't. Giving my answer is just a way to generate more discussion. Plus, some patrons want to know. If I asked ice cream or pie and didn't sing the virtues of ice cream, inevitably someone would respond: Dan, you have a big gut, you obviously know desserts, which do you prefer? So I take the mystery out of that part.

Palmer
McNally
Cuellar
Flanagan
McGregor

Guthrie
Matusz
Bergesen
Duchscherer
Arrieta

Bergesen is way underrated and has yet to gain the same national respect as Matusz. He was only our best pitcher in '09 and had some TERRIFIC starts last year.

My Rotation of choice:

1)Guthrie
2)Duchsherer
3)Matusz
4)Bergesen
4)Arrieta

I feel that moving Matusz up to so could hinder or slow his progress and his confidence. He is coming off a stellar end of the season and hopefully he can roll that into a strong ST and strong April. Putting a "healthy" (that is the key here) Duchsherer in at number 2 allows for the top of the rotation to be with consistent ball controllers who do not walk a lot of guys and can get people out. Bergesen at 4 allows for someone who has experienced success near the bottom of the rotation and if he can return to his rookie year form, this could be a great year for him. I like what the Orioles are doing. I know that some of these moves are not the most flashy or ideal, but they offer hope and excitement to a team that has been built on hope then disappointment. A few more wins and the ability to compete within the division will allow for the Orioles of old!

You are probably correct. However, there is a dark horse and that's Patton. He was highly thought of before his surgery two years ago and is full strength now.

Another effective lefty would be useful.

Many people are thinking the final three spots are some combination of Duchsherer, Arrieta and Bergesen with Guthrie and Matusz locks for the first two spots. While I agree with the people making up this rotation, I believe Duchsherer starts the season if he's healthy and out plays Guthrie in ST. Guthrie struggled both years he was handed the ace role and proved last year that he works best in the two slot. This isn't opinion, it's pretty obvious. While I'd like Guthrie to man-up and take that responsibility, I think he just doesn't have it in him. He just isn't a major league ace, and especially not in the AL East. I know people have problems with the Duke's durability, but I think that as long as he's pitching, he has that caliber of "stuff" to compete with the Sabathias. This lines everyone else up to more favorable odds. If he isn't as effective as Guthrie this Spring, he'll obviously be pushed back. But as it stands now, I have:

Duke
Guthrie
Matusz
Bergesen
Arrieta

Maybe you switch Bergy and Arrieta to have a power pitcher follow the lefty, as someone north of me suggested. If the Duke gets hurt mid-season, the rotation can be juggled around so whoever's pitching best takes over up top, and Britton or Tillman takes over the remaining spot.

Many people are thinking the final three spots are some combination of Duchsherer, Arrieta and Bergesen with Guthrie and Matusz locks for the first two spots. While I agree with the people making up this rotation, I believe Duchsherer starts the season if he's healthy and out plays Guthrie in ST. Guthrie struggled both years he was handed the ace role and proved last year that he works best in the two slot. This isn't opinion, it's pretty obvious. While I'd like Guthrie to man-up and take that responsibility, I think he just doesn't have it in him. He just isn't a major league ace, and especially not in the AL East. I know people have problems with the Duke's durability, but I think that as long as he's pitching, he has that caliber of "stuff" to compete with the Sabathias. This lines everyone else up to more favorable odds. If he isn't as effective as Guthrie this Spring, he'll obviously be pushed back. But as it stands now, I have:

Duke
Guthrie
Matusz
Bergesen
Arrieta

Maybe you switch Bergy and Arrieta to have a power pitcher follow the lefty, as someone north of me suggested. If the Duke gets hurt mid-season, the rotation can be juggled around so whoever's pitching best takes over up top, and Britton or Tillman takes over the remaining spot.

1. Guthrie
2. Matusz
3. J-Duke
4. Bergesen
5. Tillman

I think the world of Jeremy Guthrie, and that he is a very solid pitcher, and has earned the No. 1 spot, however I think he is just holding this spot for Brian Matusz, who will hopefully mature throughout this year and develop into his true ace potential. As for Duchscherer, i think he has alot left in him and should be a quality No.3, but i wouldn't throw him past 5 innings in an effort to keep him healthy. I don't think a start at AAA would hurt Tillman, but that's something for him to prove at ST.

More than kinda nice to see such agreement about the starting 5!
When was the last time we could have this question blank filled in so similar.
Good sign indeed.

Given his final 10 game statistics and his repertoire of straight nasty stuff, Brian Matusz has and will pitch his way into one of the top two slots in ST, this much we know. Deciding who gets the ball on Opening Day in Tampa, however, might be one of Buck's biggest decisions, if not the biggest decision of 2011. On the one hand, Guthrie has proven he is the ACE of the staff with his team leading 3.87 ERA for 2010 (despite what a poster says above). On the other hand, Matusz may out pitch him in ST and look the part of staff ACE, which we all know, he is destined to be VERY soon.
My guess is that for the start of 2011 we'll see Buck set the rotation as such to keep the the opposition off balance in the very best way.

1.Guthrie (get off the guys back, only Millwood got worse run protection)

2. Matusz (creates nice RIght, Left, Right at the top of the rotation)

3. Duchsherer (IF healthy, and that's a capital IF, IF healthy presents really tough lineup adjustment on either side of Matusz)

4. Bergensen (No commercials please, don't step on a crack, all rabbits feet on deck! A healthy, affective Bergy is KEY to this rotations success)

5. Arrieta (simply put, just a more polished gamer than Tillman. Better pitches, more movement on his fastball, better command already)

note: Tillman desperately needs a 3rd pitch! While he may have lifted weights for the 1st time in his lifetime AND it will be interesting to see what that has done for him, this guy REALLY needs another pitch or he will be set for a lifetime of bullpen, long relief. Mark Connor should be able to help him develop a cutter or a 3rd pitch, otherwise that straight fastball will put him in AAA for the start of 201. Given Britton's accension and Patton & Erbe looming, that AAA visit could last longer than anyone thinks. For me, if Tillman pitches well, SELL high on the guy, not a fan.

Guthrie, Matusz, Bergensen, Duchscherer, Tillman.

I like Jake a lot, but I smell sophomore slump coming. He has the job walking into spring training, but with 3 guys trying to push him out of the rotation, it'll be an exciting Spring Training. My thought is that Tillman now has 2 years of being in the show and Jake just one, so maybe Tillman "wants it" more than Jake does.

Dark horse of VandenHurk. He could be really exciting. That slider of his is wipe-out quality.

I'm not sure this is realistic, but this is what I think the rotation should be:

1. Guthrie
2. Matusz
3. Arrieta
4. Britton
5. Tillman

With Duchscherer in the bullpen and Bergesen traded while his value is still high. Rationale: 1)pitchers are going to get hurt. Better to use the young guys now before they get hurt. 2) These are the 5 who have the most talent. Bergesen is at the peak of his talent right now and could yield prospects in a trade.

I think, based on the way they pitched to end the year, Guthrie, Matusz, Arrieta and Bergesen are in the rotation until they pitch their way out. Then let Duchsherer, Tillman, Britton and Vanderhurk fight it out for the final spot. It will likely end up as the same rotation as you predicted, with Duke winning out the final spot. I just think the top four all finished extremely strong last year and should be given a chance to build on that and maintain momentum.

Ray -

With the "pitchers get hurt" philosophy in mind, why would you trade Bergesen, leaving yourself with zero depth if (when?) one of your starting five gets hurt?

I like Curly Hodspeed's rotation! It might be the only way to keep Flanagan out of the broadcast boothe.

1. Guthrie
2. Matusz
3. Bergesen
4. Duchscherer
5. Arrieta

I understand what Christian said about Duke, and if he's in the rotation and able to pitch he'll probably have better stats than any #4 starter in the league, probably on par with most of the #1's. For now I'm still looking at going with Guthrie first.

The rest of the order has a lot to do with mixing the styles of the starters. I like Matusz the lefty after Guthrie. Bergey is finally back as he showed the last two months of the season, and even came up with a 92-94 mph fastball that nobody knew he had. I expect him to have more IP this year than Matusz. I want Duke between Bergey and Jake. Arrieta has a lot of potential and I hope he puts it together this year but I am not counting on him to do more than make all his starts and give ~180IP at 4.75 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. Whatever he gives better than that will be gravy and mean the Orioles are having a really good season.

Of course, if Duke can give the team more than 150 IP it will be awesome. I expect they may have to manage his pitch count and IP throughout the year, even if he avoids the DL, just because he has not pitched a lot recently or even a lot of innings in one season ever.

Jeremy Guthrie: I believe Guthrie deserves the opening start because he is a proven, solid starter and is the longest tenured Oriole in the rotation. At this point, he gives the Orioles the best chance to win. Just imagine how successful he would be if he wasn't pitching in the AL East.
Justin Duchscherer: He has had success as a starter in the big leagues when he is healthy and gives the Orioles a solid veteran presence behind Guthrie.
Brian Matusz: At this point, Matusz is our second best option; I would have him at #2 if we had another LHP option in the rotation; it's good to split the RHP evenly. He's going to have a big year; I'm predicting 14-15 wins.
Brad Bergesen: He pitched very well the last two months of the season and many people forget he went 7-5 with a 3.43 ERA in 2009. He started off poorly in 2010 due to an injury but he is fully recovered and ready to contribute. Watch out!
Jake Arrieta: I think he out performs Chris Tillman in Spring Training and wins the last spot in the rotation.

History states that Duchscherer will get injured which will get Tillman and eventually Britton some starts. Barring any major roster changes, I think this is what Buck will go with to start the season. GO BIRDS!!!!

Tillman, Arrieta, and Britton battle for the 5th spot. The other two go down. Its mainly about command and pitch count, though with Tillman also movement.

Vandenhurk and Berken battle for a long relief spot. I don't think they both stick

Jim Johnson moves down to the seventh inning.
Hopefully there's enough depth to weather the inevitable.

Of the 3 returning top starters, I agree with Elliot. Bergeson is the most intriguing. He gets on a roll and chews up innings. Definitely don't want more than 7 in the bullpen.

There's no way Bergesens' the #5 starter for this team; he's much better than that. Here's how I see it:

1. Guthrie
2. Matus
3. Bergesen
4. Duchsherer
5. Arieta

If the Duke can't stay healty, I think you might see either Jason Berken or Jim Johnson in a starting role, at least until Tillman or Britton look like they're ready.

Matusz
Guthrie
Bergesen
Britton
Arrieta

Duchscherer won't stay healthy. Millwood won't be on the team.
Britton gives L - R balance

Guthrie
Matusz
Arrieta
Bergesen
Duchscherer

I am not sure I understand most people's thinking here.

How do you make Arrieta a #5 starter (or send him down) and have Duchscherer - who is returning from an injury, had 5 starts last year and had only 141 innings in his best year - in the middle of your order?

And, please, Millwood is not coming back...

Arrieta is a #1 pick the O's stole in the 5th round. He pitched well in his inaugural year and has done nothing to merit a demotion.

It is not like the Duke is Cliff lee or even Rodrigo Lopez, who at least put 200 innings on the table...

Guthrie
Matusz
Bergesen
Duchsherer
Arrieta

However, this leads to the follow-up question, which arms make it out of ST in the bullpen?

Koji
Gonzalez
Berken
JJ
Gregg

Who are the other 2 or 3 arms?

@ Ray
Bergeson for prospects? Peaking at 25? After the second half he had last year?

The dude is a horse with a heavy, sinking fastball that I believe is made for OPACY.

I'm looking for 13-9, 170+ innings and a 3.4 ERA. That would probably get a prospect or two...

Guthrie
Matusz
Bergesen
Arrieta
Duke

Duke needs to be the 5th starter for a few months to prove himself. If he's still healthy in June and is pitching well, move him to the #1 or #2 slot.

Bergy cannot be traded because he is a ground ball pitcher.

The wild card is VandenHurk because he is out of options and they need to find out what he can do.

I vote for a 4-man rotation. Palmer, McNally, Cuellar, and Dobson!

Matusz
Guthrie
Bergesen
Duchscherer/Berken/Patton
Arietta
I split the #4 only because I'm not convinced Duch will be good for more than 1/2 year. I hope I'm wrong because he has #1 stuff if healthy. The top 3 are strong And Arietta showed last year what he can do if healthy. I think that Patton and Berken are capable of stepping in if anyone gets hurt. I've looked over the starters for the rest of the East and I think we are as good or better than anyone 6 deep except the Sox. Leave Tillman and Britton at Norfolk for another full year of AAA.
And above all, sign Guerrero and take a load off the whole staff.

Just a few ideas: 1) Other than the honor of pitching on Opening Day, what does the "Ace" or #1 designation really mean? With schedules of off days and rain outs and travel, etc., how often does the Orioles #1 guy face the Red sox #1 guy, anyway? Anybody got a stat on that?

2) How often does the #5 guy actually start over the season? Don't most teams rotate 4 guys basically, with the 5th guy needed during long consecutive games on consecutive days? Is the #5 guy really the "spot starter"?

3) Assuming no debilitating injuries, don't you have to give Guthrie the Opening Day start? He is the longest tenured pitcher here, and has pitched well enough to earn the start. AFter that, Matusz, Bergesen, Duke, Arrieta.

send guthieand -vla-gure ----and millwood to yankees -so the orioles will win .

Dan,

Is Tillman out of options? If not, I believe he only has one more left.

I like the new pick-up in Dusche, he is steady. I thin at a minimum we now have our long relief options sealed as well as at least 7 viable starters competing and available for the rotation on any given day. I think this is healthy situation going into a season. For instance, the last 15 or so seasons, we only ever had three viable starters penciled in at the start the season let alone endure the season's challanges along the way.

.........................................................................................
He still has an option remaining.

Guth
Matusz
Bergy
Arietta
Duke

Duke has never started more than 22 games in a single season. If Tillman and/or Britton dominate at Norfolk, I could see moving Duke to the pen were he has spent most of his career. This assumes Bergy and Arietta are not getting rocked every 5 days.

TomD said it best. Arrieta should not.be demoted. He is a winner.

Guthrie
Matusz
Arrieta
Bergeson
Duke

No secrets here. Tillman and Britton start in Norfolk and Britton comes up in July when Duke proves himself enough that the O's find a taker to give us 2 AA players.

That leaves us with the obvious 5, which again is no secret.

Truthfully, I see some nice things coming from Matusz as he claims #1 status by June/July and wins 16. Guthrie continues his new found success and wins 15 with the offensive support, the likes of which he's never seen and Bergy, complete with his new 4 seamer that gets 5 MPH more than his signature 2 seamer wins 14, as he now can get out LH and RH hitters. Just like the end of the 10' season, each SP gets on mini rolls all year and they match each throughout. Even Arrieta wins 13 and THE DUKE wins 8 before he is traded in July. Then, Britton does his thing and gets 12-13 starts, winning 7. I'll take that. Bullpen and spot starters win the last 13 and the O's win 86.

Upon further review:

Ray Miller used to say that every spring one pitcher performs well below expectations and another performs well above expectations. So...

Guthrie is #1 regardless.

Matusz, Bergesen, or Duke will pitch himself to AAA (or to the DL or off the team in Duke's case).

Tillman, Arrieta, Britton, or Vanderhurk will pitch himself on to the club.

This is why Buck and Andy make the big $$$, to make those decisions.

You can bet that the obvoius rotation on Feb. 2 won't be the obvoius rotation on April 1.

You heard it here first.

Bergesen quickly became my favorite pitcher in '09, but something tells me his progression will take longer than that of his teammates. I'm not so sure he pitches his way into the rotation in Sarasota.

After years of bashing Guthrie, I'm finally sold on the guy. He was outstanding in a season of of underachievement. He throws on Opening Day.

Chris Tillman... Oh Chris. What to do about you. I say flip him. He doesn't have it. The only game I remember enjoying in which he pitched was against the Rangers (and somehow Cliff Lee lost!) and he made use of those two pitches very well.

Guthrie
Duke
Matusz
Arrieta
Millwood

Isn't the question who will be the in the rotation come July?

Just going off last season, I don't see why Arrieta is competing with Tillman or Britton, but Duchscherer just gets handed a spot coming off all those injuries. That spot should be Arrieta's to lose going into Spring Training and Duchsherer should be competing with Tillman and Britton, not Arrieta.

Colorado Oriole;

Over the regular season I don't think the #1 designation is about anything more than who is the guy you want the others to look to, and with a group of young guys like we have, who better than Guthrie. He's a no nonsense guy who eats 200 IP and puts up good if not great numbers.

This isn't scientific, but a couple of years ago I looked at Guthrie's starts. If memory serves correct, he went against other teams opening day starter about 23% of the time. Being 1 of 5 in a rotation says you should about 20% of the time. Not much difference.

NOTHING SET IN STONE ....WINNER TAKES ALL

Guthrie
Matusz
Bergesen
Duke
Millwood

This maintains AP status quo of "grow the arms" which gives Tillman, Erbe, Arrieta, Britton, Patton more time at AAA. The callup order should any of the above get injured or underperform is:

Arrieta
Tillman
Britton
Patton
Erbe

Dan,

I agree with you on the likely rotation, but wanted to point out that both MacPhail and Showalter have said publicly that Britton has a chance to make this rotation. I think it is highly unlikely unless there is an injury or two, but could Britton be so dominant in March that it forces the club's hand? Given his talent level, it is certainly possible.

Kevin Millwood's agent is in talks/negotiations with the Orioles. Expect him back in the rotation at a reduced price, as the team's #3 starter

Gutherie
Matusz
Bergeson
Arrieta
Tillman

I think this group is ready to take the next step and show some consistency in quality starts..

Many fans don't realize that the Os and Millwood's agent are in talks. Millwood will very likely be coming back mostly due to lack of interest from other teams. He will be the team's #3 starter unless he proves better in spring training.
Hopefully signing Millwood won't ruin the chances of getting Guerrero.
Guthrie
Matusz
Millwood
Duchscherer
Begersen

RIGHT! Millwood asking for $4-5 mill. Can anyone be more dillusional? Ain't happenin' at that price and I hope not at $1 mill. either. He's got nothing left but a straight 86 MPH straight ball...can't even call it a FASTBALL. O's are still feeling screwed by Kevin THE BRINKS ROBBER Millwood in forking over $12 mill. last year to that catastrophe. Unless Millwood pays them, IT AIN'T HAPPENIN'.

I don't rate Duchsherer any higher than I did Hill or Eaton.
It seems very strange to me not to have read a single word about Mark Connor since it was announced he was hired.
One would think that his opinion on Duchsherer would have been paramount to any consideration.... and yet we heard absolutely nothing from this so-called "guru".

I think the Orioles will break ST camp with the following rotation:
GUTHRIE
MATUSZ
ARRIETA
BERGESEN
VANDENHURK

Guthrie
Matusz
Duke
Bergesen
Arrieta

Guthrie
Matusz
Arrieta
Bergeson
Tillman

I remember 2 years ago, when this same question was asked. I believe I posted the answer wouldn't matter, because no matter who was in the rotation, at 3 or 4 out of 5 would not be in the rotation by the end of May. This team is way beyond that. No, this isn't a playoff team, but the team is heading in the right direction.

I agree with John above. This team is way beyond filling the rotation with young guys who haven't proven they can be effective. Guthrie, Bergesen and Matusz were exceptional after Buck took over.

I agree that Guthrie seems to pitch better when he's not used as the number 1. However, it's a bit too early to make Matusz number 1. So, if it isn't Guthrie, it may be Bergesen who was the equal to Matusz the last 1/3 of 2010.

MATUSZ
BERGESON
GUTHRIE
ARRIETA
BRITTON

Ranking based strictly on talent. Matusz shows every sign of becoming an ace, if he's not already, one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball. Bergeson, when completely healthy, might equal Matusz in effectiveness. Guthrie will win a lot of games at #3, because he's steady and good and because he'll be up against opponents' middle-of-the-order guys. Britton should be next, based on AAA dominance, but ease him in at #5 to start with, behind Arrieta, and see how he fares. If dominance continues, reverse the two and drop Arrieta to #5. Tillman isn't ready yet for the big leagues--not enough pitches, not enough control or consistency. Duchscherer I know nothing about; based on his history, injuries, and age, long relief might be a good place for him--useful in short bursts, with time for rest in between.

Contrary to opinion above, I do think that pitching order matters. For example, sending Guthrie against C.C. makes no sense, almost guaranteeing a loss. Even after opening day, if "#1 pitchers" meet even 20% of the time, that could add up to 5-7 more wins or losses, depending on who our #1 is. Similarly, throwing Arrieta or Britton against opponents' bottom-of-the-order guy improves our chance of a win.

If it were up to me, I'd go with a 6 man rotation--more recovery time, fresher arms, less strain, a greater shot at staying healthy through the long season, and more protection if someone gets hurt.

This is a good group. For a change, the Orioles have a truly talented rotation, top to bottom, with some depth to cover. With the addition of Guerrero now, 90, or even 95 wins might not be out of sight.

With all due respect to Ray, of whom I am quite sure is a generally knowledgable fan, trading Bergesen is about the worst idea I have ever heard.

I suppose I would agree that Neville Chamberlain's ceding of Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler's Nazi thugs in 1938 was perhaps an even worse idea, but that still leaves trading Bergesen in the top two of bad ideas.

The guy is a pitbull and is going to be a winner in this league - and hopefully on this team - for a long time to come. It's not broke; let's not fix it.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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