There has been a lot of speculation, but no official confirmation just yet on whether Dave Trembley will keep twelve or thirteen pitchers on the roster.
It's believed the club is leaning toward keeping thirteen because of the uncertainty of the starting rotation. The Orioles might need some extra arms if the only thing the starters do consistently in April is exit in the fifth or sixth innings.
Obviously that sounds a bit pessimistic, but it's good the Orioles are being realistic.
The fact remains, Opening Day is one week away and still nobody knows who will pitch after Koji Uehara on April 8th. Someone will be on the mound, but the fact that no one has stepped up and grabbed the job outright is a little disconcerting---especially this late in the spring.
If the decision is to keep thirteen, I think it's the right one. The Orioles bullpen is predicted to be one of the team's strengths, and it would be a shame if they are overused in the first month or two of the season.
Many of the Birds' relievers are coming off injuries. Having an extra pitcher will help.
As we saw early last year, the Orioles bullpen can be dominating when the outfield doors don't open until at least the seventh inning. The first half of the season was impressive.
Once relievers start coming out of the pen to make spot starts, setup men start stringing together too many back-to-back appearances, and long relievers are putting in multiple innings a few times a week, and it gets ugly.
In 2008 Jamie Walker, Dennis Sarfate, Jim Johnson, George Sherrill, and Matt Albers all spent time on the disabled list. Sure, there were a number of reasons for the injuries, but overuse definitely played a factor.
There's no need for an extra bench player this early in the season when nagging injuries and fatigue aren't a factor. A thirteenth pitcher is the way to go for now.
Here's what that group of thirteen might look like:
It's fairly safe to say these ten are the sure shots.
Assuming Danys Baez makes the roster because the O's don't want to eat the remainder of the three-year $19 million dollar contract he signed in 2006, we'll pencil him in as the eleventh name.
That leaves two spots. One will go to the fifth starter. The other will be put in the pen. Hayden Penn, Alfredo Simon, and Brian Bass are the three names fighting for the two spots.
At this point, some feel Simon might have the advantage over Penn and Bass for the job as the fifth starter, but that's speculation. No one knows for sure. He pitches tonight as the Orioles hit the road to take on the Mets. This will be a big start for Simon.