Analyzing the remaining position battles; projecting Orioles' Opening Day roster - Page 2 of 7 -

Dan Connolly

Analyzing the remaining position battles; projecting Orioles’ Opening Day roster

Photo credit: Jonathan Dyer/USA Today Sports

Fifth starter

As I wrote Monday, this appears to be a three-pitcher race among Mike Wright Jr., Nestor Cortes Jr., and Miguel Castro. Gabriel Ynoa was always the trailer, and he took a step backward Sunday. Hunter Harvey may be the best of the group, but since he hasn’t pitched much as a pro, the club will be patient – relatively speaking – with their top pitching prospect as he continues to surge back from elbow surgery. Cortes, a Rule 5 pick who must stay with the Orioles all year or be offered back to the New York Yankees, is the only lefty among the fifth-starter candidates (and the four who already have a spot). Castro has the best combination of upside and big league success, but he also has a minor league option remaining and probably could benefit from starting some at Triple-A. That leaves Wright, who has had success starting in the minors but can’t maintain any consistency when he gets to the Orioles’ rotation. He didn’t make a start with the club last year, but likely will be afforded that opportunity in 2018. He is out of minor league options, so it’s sink or swim time for the big fella.

My projected winner: Wright



  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    March 6, 2018 at 7:18 am

    Dan … Ryan Flaherty .. possibly cut loose and back in an O’s uniform?


    • Dan Connolly

      March 6, 2018 at 8:29 am

      A chance. Depends if he makes the Phillies. He can opt out.

  2. willpatten

    March 6, 2018 at 8:17 am

    Is Wright that impressive this spring that we can forget previous experience? I have no faith in the boy. Or Tillman for that matter. To me they are place-holders till Harvey and Castro/Araujo take their places.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 6, 2018 at 8:33 am

      I get your feelings on Wright. Hasn’t seized the opportunities yet. But Tillman? It’s amazing to me how many smart Baseball fans have written him off. Maybe I’m being slow here. But good pitchers have had bad years due to injury. When he’s healthy he is a good, solid MLB pitcher. I sense 2017 was the fluke. But I suppose it could be the trend.

  3. Dblack2508

    March 6, 2018 at 8:39 am

    With the current roster I would have to agree with you with the exception of Wright and Cortes . Cortes has the fifth starter for now and Wright in the bullpen. John Jay would be a perfect fit for this team.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 6, 2018 at 9:14 am

      That’s possible cuz of lefty situation. But I think they want to give Wright another chance to start at MLB level — he didn’t last year — and they want to see how MLB hitters, esp. RH, react to Cortes. Easier to experiment in bullpen.

  4. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    March 6, 2018 at 9:03 am

    Good analysis and evaluation of the projected final roster heading north. Castro with one option remaining may not make team. He was valuable as a long man last year. I think the Orioles will let him make starts at Norfolk. I still think Cortez wins the 5th spot with Wright in the bullpen. Adding another veteran starter is needed imo but it seems unlikely.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 6, 2018 at 9:15 am

      Read the above comments. But, yeah, no lefties in the rotation would be concerning.

      • Dpsmith22

        March 12, 2018 at 9:33 am

        True. Considering Duquette has traded 3 or more left handed starters and failed to acquire one, this off season. I find it odd that he was so adamant and then didn’t follow through. Wait, that has been par for the course with him, what was I thinking…..

  5. BunkerFan

    March 6, 2018 at 9:08 am

    Hey Dan. Good and clear article. You have brought these battles into focus. However you failed to mention Alec Asher, who started several games for the O’s last summer and also pitched out of the pen. He was pretty good some times. And I have the impression he has pitched well this Spring. Where do you think he fits in this discussion? Certainly better than Asher W…..eye chart. No? BTW: I think you are right about Tilly. He is going to rebound enough to make most of the incentives in his contract.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 6, 2018 at 9:20 am

      There wasn’t much buzz around Asher while I was in camp. I don’t think he is legitimately in the Opening Day plans. They kind of have a feel as to who he is. The other guys are more of mysteries and will be vetted more I think. The Orioles feel Asher can have a role as long man/spot starter but I’m not sure that begins in the big leagues. But I’d imagine we will see him in the majors at some point. I probably should have included him.

      • BunkerFan

        March 6, 2018 at 9:26 am

        Thanks Dan. Does he have another option left? To the minors, I mean. We all have “other options”….

    • Dan Connolly

      March 6, 2018 at 10:05 am

      I’ll have to check. He’s done 3 but probably received a fourth. So that means he would have one remaining for this year. But I’m not 100 percent positive.


    March 6, 2018 at 9:11 am

    This team looks like 4th place club at best. The Orioles are no better than they were at the end of last season. Very, very sad. How does the GM keep his job?

    • Dan Connolly

      March 6, 2018 at 9:20 am

      I would suppose it would be getting the team in the playoffs half the time he’s had the job.

  7. Orial

    March 6, 2018 at 9:37 am

    Your roster evaluation appears to be on mark. I too want the the addition of John Jay. This team begs for his tools. Rasmus,Santander,Gentry in RF is very underwhelming. I see Hays st AAA. The Valencia addition and being that DD really limes him concernd me. Utility means SS, 2nd baseman etc. Question Dan–what is Jays asking price and where would the O’s go to meet it?

    • Dan Connolly

      March 6, 2018 at 10:06 am

      No way of knowing. Can’t be too ambitious this late in the calendar considering he isn’t a starting pitcher. Just a nice supplemental piece

  8. Birdman

    March 6, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    Guess we will know soon enough about Tillman. Although I’m skeptical, I see no problem giving Tillman 8-10 starts early in the season to see what’s up with him.

    My concern is that, knowing how the Orioles operate, even if it becomes clear that Tillman can’t get the job done, and even if no other team in MLB wants him in their rotation, the Orioles will still keep sending him out every fifth game to rack up another loss.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 6, 2018 at 3:44 pm

      I could see that scenario. Letting him try to pitch out of it.

  9. ClyOs

    March 6, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    It’s a shame Santander has to stay on the 25 man roaster for 44 days this year. Richard, or Pressley would be better suited as the fifth outfielder. I believe Santander would benefit more by playing every day in the minors than sitting on the bench in the majors.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 6, 2018 at 3:45 pm

      44 Days isn’t much. By late May he could be sent down.

  10. centralscrutinizer

    March 6, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    I am not a GM, so my opinion really does not count. But it seems to me that hitters coming from the NL to the AL take at least a quarter to half a season to adjust to pitchers they are not familiar with. At least they do for the O’s. That said, I would skip Jon Jay. Of course I am not one that has to have a LH hitter either. A good hitter can hit RH or LHs. That said, let Hayes start in the OF with Santander as the fourth OF. It’s time to bring some excitement back and young players do that.

    • BunkerFan

      March 6, 2018 at 6:37 pm

      Jay just signed with Royals for $3m….would think the O’s could have signed him if they wanted to for that little. A lot of $$ for most of us but not for MLB…My guess is that the O’s management team is 1. happy enough with Rasmus/Presley and 2. Pleasantly surprised by Santander that they felt comfortable passing on any other LH OF.

      • centralscrutinizer

        March 6, 2018 at 6:44 pm

        Forgot to mention, I am not a Rasmus fan either. He seems like a total bust. But he could be reinvigorated and have a great season, betting not though.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 7, 2018 at 12:02 am

      I address some of this in the Jay piece I wrote.

  11. Ezrine Tire Award

    March 6, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    How underwhelming.

  12. ZantiGM

    March 9, 2018 at 11:16 pm






    Hays and Sisco start the year at AAA
    Harvey and Wynns to AA

  13. Dpsmith22

    March 12, 2018 at 9:40 am

    You certainly rank in with the “Buck doesn’t like young kids” camp on this prediction. I don’t disagree.

    -I hope your wrong and Sisco gets the job as split time catcher. Sending him down does nothing for him at this point. Susac will be hurt soon enough, but still silly to send Sisco down.
    -Somehow writing Wright in as a starter, just hurts all over…
    -It will be interesting to see how long Beckham holds his job at 3rd. Maybe it will be his spot, SS certainly isn’t.

    The players “passed” on by the organization, the past 2 weeks, have shed a spot light on the fact that we are not truly trying to compete. Only to “appear” like the organization cares about winning.

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