With the Orioles just one week away from the start of the 2011 campaign there are still some lingering questions. Reimold/ Pie is still floating around; I frankly don't see how Jake Fox doesn't make this team right now but the biggest questions surround the rotation.
We have all heard about players being "quietly" good, well I hate to say it but the young starters have taken a turn and they have been "quietly" bad as of late in ST. Matusz got shelled in his last outing; Arrieta was wildly inconsistent; Duchscherer will start the year on the DL and Bergesen was drilled on his pitching arm and had to leave one of his last starts early.
Guthrie has looked alright in his three starts but he has only pitched nine innings this spring so it is a bit hard to grade him so far. Tillman has looked solid in his 12.2 innings this spring but the stand-out player is Britton. The Orioles top prospect has surrendered only one run in his 14 innings of work this spring. But Britton is not likely to make the team out of ST due to contract stuff and a desire to give him a bit more seasoning in AAA.
So the rotation is not looking as confident as it did in the beginning. Manager Buck Showalter has set the rotation, kinda. Guthrie will get the opener in Tampa followed by Brian Matusz after that the only sure thing is Jake Arrieta will get the home opener in Baltimore against the Detroit Tigers. The "number 3" and "number 5" starters are still in question and it seems to be an open competition between Bergesen, Tillman, Britton and Duchscherer.
Showalter is not in any hurry to set that fifth starter slot as one will not be needed until later in April. So who will get that third spot? It most certainly will not be Duchscherer although he is still in the hunt for the fifth spot if he can get healthy so that leaves Tillman, Britton and Bergesen.
I thought going into this spring that Bergesen's role was all but locked in but his inconsistent play has potentially knocked him out of the rotation and back to the minors, which would have to be disastrous for the young pitcher. So we come back to the Tillman/ Britton discussion. Tillman has been alright this spring pitching to a 3.50 ERA striking out seven and walking five in his innings but he still seems to be haunted by inconsistent control issues that held him back last year. Britton has been a shining star for the pitchers this year, but there are no indications that the plans for Britton have changed as a result of his spring performance.