The Tap Room has had to travel this week.
When you are a cyberbar, you can do that. So, Connolly’s is coming to you from Sarasota today.
We have a simple question, one that, to me, is the most interesting Orioles’ battle in spring training: Who should be the club’s fifth starter?
I’ve written that I think it is going to be Mike Wright Jr., because he is out of minor-league options, has supporters in the organization and possesses plenty of talent. He’s been his worst enemy in the past, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter said this week he thinks Wright understands what is at stake and has more of a calmness about him this year.
I watched Wright pitch this week and I came away with a mixed review. He got outs and didn’t allow a run in two innings, and that’s big. Results count when you are competing for a job. But he also missed too many spots – roughly a 50-50, ball-strike ratio. It’s only spring training, but that has to change soon or big league hitters will change it for Wright when the games count.
I also watched Rule 5 lefty Nestor Cortes Jr., pitch this week, and I was sort of impressed. He is deceptive, and hitters, especially left-handed hitters, seemingly struggle to pick up his pitches, resulting in weak contact.
But he throws his fastball at 86-89 mph and, as Showalter said, he needs to have all his tools working to succeed. I have concern as to how he’s gonna fare consistently versus right-handers. Because when he misses his spots, the result is really loud contact. And that may not be a fit at Camden Yards. But I like the kid’s attitude. He’s confident. I like that.
I haven’t seen Gabriel Ynoa pitch this spring. I will on Sunday. I saw enough last year to figure the 24-year-old has sufficient talent and upside that he’ll be claimed if the Orioles put him on waivers since he, like Wright, doesn’t have minor-league options remaining. To me, he is swing man, probably more of a long reliever. But he has value.
Miguel Castro threw two innings in a B game Friday and he looked good, albeit a little rusty. The kid has an electric arm and mound presence. He also has an option remaining. And I wonder whether the Orioles would be better off sending him to Triple-A Norfolk to work on starting (he has one big league start in 76 career appearances) while the Orioles get a longer look at Wright, Ynoa and/or Cortes.
Those are my four candidates for one rotation spot. I’m not counting Hunter Harvey, as impressive as he looked in the outing I watched (a 95-mph fastball that seemed effortless). He’ll be in the rotation this year, but not in April.
Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman have spots locked up heading into the season assuming they are healthy.
I know there will be a few wise guys (on Facebook, of course) that will answer this question with Jake Arrieta or Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb. I don’t see them walking through the Ed Smith door, so I’m not giving you that choice.
No wise guys at the joint unless it is the barkeep.
Tap-In Question: Who is your pick for O’s fifth starter among Wright, Cortes, Ynoa and Castro?