Nothing is determined yet, but expect Mike Wright to start games for the Orioles in April - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Nothing is determined yet, but expect Mike Wright to start games for the Orioles in April

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Orioles’ pitchers and catchers report Tuesday at the club’s spring training camp in Sarasota, Fla., and they’ll begin official workouts Wednesday.

I’m going to make two predictions before a pitch is thrown this week:

One: The Orioles’ No. 3 starter isn’t in the group we expect to report Tuesday. He hasn’t been signed yet. I’m firmly of the belief that the Orioles will sign at least one veteran starter at some point before Opening Day, March 29. Who will it be? Not quite sure (wish I could be a little more definitive, but I don’t think the Orioles are positive of the identity of their No. 3 yet, either).

Here’s my second prediction: Mike Wright is with the Orioles on Opening Day, likely as the fifth starter (though he could be in the bullpen to begin 2018, until a fifth starter is needed).

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Regardless, I think the big right-hander gets one more opportunity to stick in the Orioles’ rotation — and that he makes some starts this April.

The former third-rounder in 2011 is 28 now. He has pitched 43 games – 21 starts – for the Orioles in the past three seasons and has posted a 5.86 ERA.

Last year, he didn’t start a game in the majors; he had a 5.76 ERA in 13 relief appearances that were sandwiched around a shoulder injury that forced Wright to miss more than a month. He had a 3.69 ERA in 16 starts at Triple-A Norfolk.

This year, he is out of minor-league options. If he can’t make the team this spring, he’ll have to be exposed to waivers and some team somewhere will take a chance because Wright has a strong arm, is cheap and relatively young.

Those are three reasons the Orioles don’t want to give up on him despite the maddening inconsistency.

But there are other reasons, too.

For one, Wright has worked out with club vice president Brady Anderson in the past, they’ve formed a bond and the former Orioles star outfielder turned executive believes in the right-hander. That goes a long way within the organization.

Nolan Reimold and Brian Matusz, for instance, received extended looks in the majors at least partially because Anderson felt like they had what it took to succeed. Ultimately, those types of players have to prove their worth, and when they can’t continually, they are jettisoned. But having Anderson in your corner doesn’t hurt.

Secondly, the organization does not want a Jake Arrieta 2.0.

We all know the deal with Arrieta. Tremendous talent, couldn’t harness it in Baltimore. Traded away in 2013 and ended up as a Cy Young Award winner with the Chicago Cubs.

Wright’s not an Arrieta, in my opinion. There’s a talent gap there. Plus, theirs are completely different situations. Arrieta, for several reasons, lost all confidence with the Orioles and couldn’t pitch here. A change of scenery was imperative for his growth.

Wright’s not lacking in confidence; he needs to control his emotions and focus even more intently when things go wrong. He doesn’t necessarily need a change in scenery as much as an attitude adjustment when adversity strikes.

But Wright is a guy who, if he figures it out, can make his mark in the majors. And the Orioles – or at least some within the organization – absolutely don’t want that mark to be made elsewhere.

It would provide even more ammunition to those who criticize the Orioles for not being able to develop their own pitchers. Arrieta is Exhibit A, but there are others.

The Orioles don’t want to add Wright to that list.

So, he is going to get every opportunity to succeed in spring training and, so long as he produces some solid results, during the regular season, too.

Personally, I’d love to see the Orioles trash the starting role for Wright and put him toward the back end of the bullpen. Let him air it out for the seventh inning once every few days, and I bet you he excels once he embraces the role. I’ve been beating that drum for a while now.

Of course, starters are more valuable than set-up men and rotation help is the Orioles’ biggest need right now. You may not like it. You may have felt like you’ve seen that movie before. A couple times before, really.

Knowing the way this organization operates, however, I see Wright getting the ball every fifth day in April. Maybe with his back against the wall in Baltimore, this will be the time it clicks.

The talent is there. And I’m betting the opportunity will there again, too.

43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    February 12, 2018 at 7:17 am

    Mike Wright? Once more chance? Possible starter? Say it ain’t so Dan! How low have we fallen?

    • Dan Connolly

      February 12, 2018 at 9:10 am

      Until there are three other proven options, this is where it is. I believe anyway.

      • weams

        February 13, 2018 at 6:05 am

        Good chance most of what you have written here is correct. I suspect we will see some results. Even when you expand to guys like him there are only 1000 guys in the world that can throw a baseball like that.

    • Tmiller2308

      February 12, 2018 at 1:52 pm

      If Wright is an option we should just quit now. He is atrocious. How many chances should he get. Hes garbage. Pure garbage. Had his chance couldnt cut it. He’s not even a AAA guy

  2. DauerPower

    February 12, 2018 at 7:40 am

    Love the O’s but if Mike Wright is starting in April we may as well do the fire sale and trade Machado, Schoop, Jones. Would add Trumbo and Davis but don’t see anyone wanting them in trade.
    Still optimistic that Sisco, Mancini, and Hays prove solid major leaguers and lead us to the playoffs.
    To be an O’s fan is to be a dreamer.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 12, 2018 at 9:13 am

      That dream — at least the playoff one — did come true in three of past 6 years. I’m not optimistic this year but I wasn’t in 2012 either. Why they play the games, I suppose.

  3. OsFanStuckInNY

    February 12, 2018 at 7:45 am

    Reimold and Matusz aren’t much of a confidence builder in the area of “Advantages of having Brady Anderson in your corner.” Are there other examples of players he worked with that became more than pedestrian players who never lived up to the flashes of brilliance they showed?

    • Dan Connolly

      February 12, 2018 at 9:15 am

      Zach Britton is another. And I know he has worked with Mancini too. He’s worked with a lot. I was looking more at guys whose backs were against the wall.

      • Shoreosfan5150

        February 12, 2018 at 6:38 pm

        I remember when Zach Britton was out of options and had his back against the wall. That turned out pretty good. Hopefully Wright can be Britton 2.0

  4. Orial

    February 12, 2018 at 8:17 am

    There are two things Oriole brass are fearing right now concerning pitching: Yes the Arrietta syndrome and also the offering of the 4th year on a contract. That being said sure I can see another chance for Wright. If it’s ever a problem of someone’s head Wright is the one. Always remember that start(his first I think)against the Angels. April’s the time to do it. Has to control his emotions.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 12, 2018 at 9:16 am

      He has definitely had moments that make you think he can do it. But like many pitchers, it is consistency.

  5. BunkerFan

    February 12, 2018 at 8:26 am

    Actually, I agree with you, Dan. I don’t want to see Wright follow in the cleat steps of Arrietta, Bridwell, Davies…guys we gave up on too soon. Give him these chances to succeed, for sure. But it doesn’t seem to be enough to help him with physical training: he needs work with mental training. Many athletes have adapted mindfulness practices in other sports, from Russell Wilson to Phil Jackson: why not in baseball? If Wright gets too emotional when he gets into trouble on the mound it would be a good idea to give him the concentration skills to get through his emotions and stay focused. The mentality of going from batter to batter and leaving the last batter behind mentally is key. I don’t know why more teams don’t offer this to their players. Some college teams do and I have actually seen it work.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 12, 2018 at 9:23 am

      Bunk: it happens in Baseball all the time. The mental part is something they work on constantly. There used to be a sports psychologist who was in the clubhouse while the Media was allowed in. That’s not the case anymore but that stuff is always available.

  6. Creatively_19

    February 12, 2018 at 8:34 am

    You make a strong case for the Orioles starting him, but “…groan…”

  7. Dblack2508

    February 12, 2018 at 8:47 am

    I agree with you 100% .I have been saying that years, he has closer stuff. I believe Wright’s problems are his own doing between his ears. Reminds me of a better version of Tommy Hunter.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 12, 2018 at 9:29 am

      Tommy Hunter is a pretty good pitcher. Wasn’t a closer. But as a setup man, pretty good. If Wright gets there, everyone should be happy.

      • Creatively_19

        February 12, 2018 at 10:57 am

        Tommy Hunter was still hitting 100 MPH on his fastball last season. Nothing wrong having a guy come out of the pen who can do that.

  8. Birdman

    February 12, 2018 at 9:07 am

    Since this year’s Orioles look like a team that will probably struggle to reach 75 wins anyway, I don’t see much downside to giving Wright a couple of months to see whether he can finally get on track.

    I am also interested by the discussion of Brady Anderson’s role in the operation of the team. When you say Anderson’s opinion goes a long way in the organization, I assume that means goes a long way with Angelos, not Duquette. Are the Orioles unique in this respect, or are there other organizations in MLB with someone in a role comparable to Anderson, who seemingly can go over the head of the GM on player personnel matters?

    • Dan Connolly

      February 12, 2018 at 9:31 am

      I think it goes a long way with everyone, specifically because he does have the ear of the Angelos family. Duquette and Showalter listen too. He’s part of a three-headed management team in my opinion. I don’t know if any other org has a Brady. I’d imagine some do.

  9. AlanRBaltimore

    February 12, 2018 at 9:43 am

    Given that the Orioles will likely need two starters from in-House candidates, the fun question now is how would the other candidates rank to fill starter roles and how would Las Vegas set odds on these candidates to make the rotation?

    • Dan Connolly

      February 12, 2018 at 10:01 am

      I’d say the rank, if you take out Wright as fifth, goes Castro, Cortes, Ynoa. But, again, I expect at least one vet to sign. Maybe 2.

  10. CharlesVillageChris

    February 12, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Well what if Miguel Castro gets a few early starts and Mike Wright works cleanup in the bullpen to start the season? Castro certainly earned a shot after his 2017 and like you say, Wright could use a low pressure situation to build up his confidence.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 12, 2018 at 10:02 am

      Yeah. But I think they want to see Wright as a starter. He didn’t do it in the majors at all last year. But was pretty successful at AAA in the role in 2018. I think Castro ends up as a starter. But I’d think Wright does get a few starts.

  11. bigdaddydk

    February 12, 2018 at 10:31 am

    This may be the saddest thing posted about the O’s for the upcoming season I’ve read in a while. I’m amazed we’re at this stage and holding to a March 1 deadline to acquire pitching, which I’m sure is a very flexible deadline, and we have three open rotation spots. I can’t find the strength to be optimistic about a rotation with Wright being an improvement upon the absolute train wreck that we had last year.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 12, 2018 at 11:12 am

      I wouldn’t say there is a March 1 deadline to acquire pitching. Don’t think that is the case at all. I think March 1 was Duquette’s estimate of when a pitcher could be signed and ready to go for the week of Opening Day. But that’s individual, and it is a long season. If a guy signs March 15 and doesn’t make his first start until April 15, he’s probably missed only 3 of 33 or so.

  12. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    February 12, 2018 at 11:39 am

    I am not surprised the Orioles will give him a chance at starting since they have 3 spots to fill. However, in my opinion he doesnt have the make up to be succesful in that role. He is easily rattled and quickly loses focus leading to control problems and big innings.

    I think pitching out of the bull pen is the better option. Hopefully he can be successful there. Otherwise his time with the Orioles will be over.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 12, 2018 at 4:10 pm

      That’s basically it. If he can’t succeed this year they’ll have to expose him to waivers.

  13. DPG0124

    February 12, 2018 at 11:48 am

    I don’t think Mike Wright has enough pitches to be a consistent major league starter. I think his ceiling is a 7th/8th inning guy but I would say he probably does get at least 5 starts this year

    • Dan Connolly

      February 12, 2018 at 4:13 pm

      I think his stuff is plenty fine. It’s the pitchability that has suffered.

  14. GSISDANNO

    February 12, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    This is very sad. Hard to believe this is our bestoption.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 12, 2018 at 4:14 pm

      I’m not sure it is the best option. But given the options situation and the lack of alternatives it’s an option that needs to be explored.

  15. ClyOs

    February 12, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    I agree Wright will be the fifth starter, but it’s out of necessity. Baltimore hasn’t signed the number three starter yet OK, but I also don’t see Baltimore signing more than one starter before opening day. Unless one of the young guys has a great spring it’s Bundy, Gausman, fill in the blank, Castro, and Wright.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 12, 2018 at 4:14 pm

      I could still see two being signed. Lots of guys out there.

  16. phildell

    February 12, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    I know it’s not easy to think of the Mike Wright we’ve seen the last few years being a part of the rotation, but he’s got big league stuff. I hope at age 28 and listening to the encouragement and advice of more level heads, he’s ready to live up to expectations. I actually think he’s key to this team. Miguel Castro was a pleasant surprise last year, but he’s a string bean and I’m not sure how he’ll hold up going out every 5th day and throwing as hard as he does. I’m hopeful but holding my breath.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 12, 2018 at 7:57 pm

      Yeah. They’ve tried to keep weight on Castro. It just hasn’t worked. Wright has the perfect pitcher’s stature. He can be intimidating as all get out.

  17. Shoreosfan5150

    February 12, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    We need to find a Bud Norris type a guy who comes out of nowhere to win 15 games. Don’t need a 20 game winner 3 guys at 15 and a 10 and a 7 will get it done

    • Dan Connolly

      February 12, 2018 at 7:58 pm

      It did a few years back.

  18. Ezrine Tire Award

    February 12, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    Danno I love you and your insight man but holy shit if we’re hanging on hat on anything out of Wright but a sub-6.0 ERA lets just watch Orioles Classics from 2015.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 12, 2018 at 11:33 pm

      Just the sense I get. Don’t throat-punch the messenger.

  19. Fdog3

    February 13, 2018 at 7:20 pm

    I thought the same thing about Arrieta. ….put the hot head with all the talent at the end of the game

    • Dan Connolly

      February 13, 2018 at 8:04 pm

      Ultimately I could see it working out that way.

  20. willpatten

    February 16, 2018 at 8:51 am

    I’ve read and believe that the difference between a major leaguer and AAA/AAAA players is not talent. It’s mental toughness.
    I don’t think Wright has it and I know Davis doesn’t.

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