Pitching staff starts to come into focus

Matt Harvey could be refinding his old velocity.

Let’s face it, Felix Hernandez has been throwing mid-80s all spring so it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that he suddenly has elbow discomfort. 

This along with the fact that Matt Harvey was reportedly throwing 94-96 yesterday and pitched decently over four innings, and Jorge Lopez continues to pitch well has made it an interesting horse race for the final two rotation spots.

Officially, no one but John Means had a rotation spot but I think we all knew that Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer had spots unless they either got injured or imploded this spring.

Let’s assume these three are in the rotation:
1. Means
2. Kremer
3. Akins

That leaves two spots open if they go with the five-man rotation and since Holt basically said he doesn’t like 6-man rotation, I’m going to go with a five man rotation.

I see almost no way Bruce Zimmermann doesn’t make the rotation with his spring so far. Not only hasn’t he given up a run, but his fastball was up to 94-95 MPH and touching 96 in his last start, and his slider has been a real unhittable pitch.

So, I’m saying Zim is in at #4.
4. Zimmermann

That leaves one more spot and if we scratch Hernandez off (Nothing is official, but I’m going to go with the fact that nothing good as ever come from a pitcher throwing 2-3 MPH slower than in years past who suddenly has elbow discomfort), that leaves these candidates:

5. Matt Harvey (NRI)
6. Jorge Lopez
7. Wade LeBlanc (NRI)

Lopez has pitched the best overall so far and is the only one that doesn’t need a roster spot, but if Harvey is throwing 94-96 again, and he’s able to look decent, I don’t see how he doesn’t end up with that 5th spot.

I still think Lopez makes the team as a long reliever/spot starter and besides, he’s probably been in need of moving to the pen for some time now. With three lefties in the rotation, I don’t see LeBlanc making it without another injury. LeBlanc can got to the alternate site and be ready if an opportunity develops.

So that’s how I see things shaking out there in Mid-march. Obviously the last two weeks could change some things, but if I had to guess, the rotation is going be this to give the rotation a L-R-L balance.

1. John Means
2. Dean Kremer
3. Bruce Zimmermann
4. Matt Harvey
5. Keegan Akin

If the Orioles go with 9 relievers for 14 pitchers, here’s how I think the bullpen shapes up.

1. Scott (LHP) – High leverage/closer
2. Valdez (RHP) – High leverage/closer
3. Armstrong (RHP)
4. Tate (RHP)
5. Fry (LHP)
6. Cole Sulser (RHP) 
7. Tyler Wells (RHP) – Can provide some length
8. Jorge Lopez (RHP) – Long guy
9. Connor Greene (NRI) (RHP) – Long guy/ but don’t be surprised if he works into late inning role.

Davis gets put on 60-day IL to make room for Harvey. Lakins gets DFA’d for Greene.

Now, if the Orioles want more length they could go with LeBlanc over Sulser or possibly Goudeau, but they will both be at the alternate site getting ready so they would be options if needed after the season starts.

Previous articleMid-March Orioles Spring Training Review: Good News
Next articleSanchez DFA’d: Flurry of moves could be just the beginning
Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.