Tap-In Question: Who is your pick for O's fifth starter among Castro, Cortes, Wright and Ynoa? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Tap-In Question: Who is your pick for O’s fifth starter among Castro, Cortes, Wright and Ynoa?

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?



  1. Eldersburg Enigma

    March 3, 2018 at 8:13 am

    At this point I’m saying Cortes. He’s a lefty, he’s one of seemingly many Rule 5 picks, and he’s been OK so far.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 3, 2018 at 10:47 am

      Yeah. I think he makes the team simply so they can determine what he can do versus MLB

    • boss61

      March 3, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      Hey – we’re neighbors!

  2. bickel57

    March 3, 2018 at 9:04 am

    My first choice is Cortes mainly because that he is a lefty. But if Wright continues pitching well it will be him. They always keep the guy without any options. They always find a place to stash a rule 5 guy.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 3, 2018 at 6:41 pm

      That they do. That they do.

  3. Mr. Jones

    March 3, 2018 at 10:20 am

    I think your idea for Castro is solid. If he can go to Norfolk and show that he can consistently go 6+ innings that would be an easy call up when someone inevitably gets injured or doesn’t succeed. I also like the idea of Ynoa as a swing/long man out of the pen. That leaves Wright and Cortes. I think they find a way to keep the rule 5 guy and he is a loogy out of the pen and the spot defaults to Wright. I am not sure he is best as a starter. My gut says with a power arm let him air it out for one inning out of the pen in a 7th or 8th inning role, but for now I think he wins the 5th spot in the rotation.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 3, 2018 at 6:42 pm

      I think Wright could thrive as a reliever. But I understand why they want to exhaust all possibilities as a starter. And they didn’t have him do it in the majors last year.

  4. Boog Robinson Robinson

    March 3, 2018 at 10:38 am

    Cortes is my pick.
    For no other reason than I’m hoping he’s the next coming of Scotty McGregor and we can STICK IT TO THE YANKEES AGAIN!

    • Dan Connolly

      March 3, 2018 at 6:57 pm

      That’s great. I admire your consistency.

  5. Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

    March 3, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Gotta say Cortes right now, without any further information.

    Wright has never shown the ability to command his pitches to the level required of a starter. He’s Tommy Hunter. Or any of the other thousand fastball/slider guys who were fringy major leaguers because they couldn’t control their stuff.

    Cortes is cheap, and a lefty, and this organization has a maniacal focus on both. I don’t even think Cortes has to be all that great to make the team. If he shows he can pictch to a high-4.xx ERA, I think he’ll be on the team.

    I believe the organization sees him as the possible white knight to ride in and save them from having to make a move for Cobb/Lynn.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 3, 2018 at 6:58 pm

      I think the money they don’t want to spend or the length of contract they don’t want to give is saving them from Lynn

  6. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    March 3, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    I think that Cortez will likely be the 5th starter. He doesnt throw hard but apparently has solid command. McGregor didnt throw hard either but knew how to pitch. Hopefully he can develop and have success as a starter.

    Wright just doesnt have the make uo to be successful as a starter imo. If he doesnt get a strike call or gives up a bloop single on a good pitch it throws him off track. Usually leading to big innings. He has a good fastball and may find success coming out of the bullpen. Ynoa a notch below Wright imo.

  7. BunkerFan

    March 3, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    I agree with the posters so far for the reasons all have given. I would keep Wright in the pen for 2-3 innings until a spot opens up in the starting 5. While there seems to be certainty in the starting 4, lots can happen before Opening Day that could alter what looks to be set at the moment. I think keeping Ynoa comes down to a decision between him and either Mesa or Araujo. If they think he’s got enough upside compared to them to justify losing them both. I like the idea of sending Castro to the starting rotation at Norfolk to build up strength and innings. Gone are the days of Earle Weaver when he broke camp with 8 pitchers, half of them starters. He did this regularly in the ’70’s.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 3, 2018 at 6:59 pm

      Good call on Araujo. I’ve heard nothing but good things about him. The whole organization loves him.


    March 3, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    ABE- anyone but Wright. He has had so many chances already.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 3, 2018 at 7:00 pm

      But he hasn’t started in the bigs since 2016. And this would be the last shot. Just saying.

  9. Bancells Moustache

    March 3, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    I already explained my Cortes pick on Dan-o’s article yesterday and I’m too lazy a digital tavern regular to cut and paste.

    Honestly, while Mr Connolly is an experienced professional who needs no criticism from an amateur like me, he blew it on the ending of this article. It should have had Boog or somebody exclaim “this guy here is DEAD”, with a response from Dan being “Cross him off then…”

  10. boss61

    March 3, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    Mike Wright. He looked like a new guy last week in Sarasota. Has a new pitch. Just looks like a pitcher. Be a shame to lose him. (Remember Arietta?)

    • Dan Connolly

      March 3, 2018 at 7:01 pm

      It’s all about throwing strikes. But he got outs.

  11. geevee3

    March 3, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    Hafta say I think Tilman is the fifth starter until proven otherwise.

  12. willpatten

    March 3, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    I think Wright would clear waivers.

  13. ClyOs

    March 4, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Tuff question Dan. I like Cortes, but an 86mph fast ball is batting practice in the big leagues. A couple of bad outings with three or four tape measure homers and the kid may not be as confident as he is now. Ynoa isn’t ready to start, but will be on the opening day roaster coming out of the pen, maybe spot starts when needed, but nothing more this year. I agree Castro will start the year in Norfolk only because he can, but I think he is the best of the group and will be in the rotation at some point. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think Mike Wright will be the fifth starter coming out of spring training. Now if you’ll excuse me while I join the Hunter Harvey fan club.

  14. Fairwayguy2

    March 7, 2018 at 7:22 am

    Wright will be it at least for April. Castro limited exposure will put him back in the pen unless he is sent to Norfolk to lengthen him out. Cortes looks like your loogy, whoever gets the job has to market hay quickly with Hunter Harvey looking over their shoulder

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