The Orioles’ starting rotation of Means and Lyles and Not Many Smiles is taking shape bit by uncertain bit, with spring training in its final week, and that’s just being generous.
Manager Brandon Hyde announced Thursday John Means will be the Opening Day starter this Friday at Tampa Bay, and Jordan Lyles will follow him.
Hyde has decided Tyler Wells will be stretched out and be made the third starter in this strange process of cobbling together a group of five guys the skipper hopes can get hitters out. It will take bullpen arms to complete each game – not that that’s anything new – and a tandem concept is being considered by those who consider such things.
Necessity and the shortened spring training are the mothers of innovation. As if to make matters worse, it doesn’t help that a stomach flu went through the clubhouse and put players behind in their work.
Bullpen arms being needed is nothing new in baseball, of course. But being needed after the first three or four innings is a concept that is coming sooner than most people thought.
The month of April, and perhaps even more than that, will be tantamount to a second spring training, in terms of getting starters to the point of being able to pitch more than five or six innings. The definition of a quality start, six innings with three or fewer earned runs allowed, may take as much of a beating as the pitchers do.
It will just take continued experimentation to find five starters, and teams don’t even need a fifth starter for most of April, which is famous for rainouts, other types of weather postponements and off days.
Lousy weather in most northern cities in April is also nothing new. What is new is that the rushed spring training and compressed regular season schedule may force games to be played on what used to be off days.
Lyles turned in a creditable five innings Friday in a 3-2 win over Philadelphia, allowing two runs and four hits, walked none, struck out two and threw just 55 pitches. He is set up to start the second game of the season on what will be almost a week’s rest.
Means threw against Detroit yesterday, going four and two-thirds scoreless innings, throwing 71 pitches, 48 for strikes, and not walking a batter, always a good thing. Those guys are the two easy answers.
Wells, a Rule 5 pick from the winter of 2020, slots in either behind those two, or, for that matter, somewhere else, Hyde told MASNsports.com. His qualifications are that he had allowed two earned runs over seven and two-thirds innings.
“We’re still up in the air. We have so many decisions to make. We haven’t decided anything at this point, except for a few spots, a few spots in the bullpen. That’s where I’m at, and that’s all there is. That’s all I got to tell you, and that’s all I know, to be honest with you. I don’t have any idea after that.”Orioles manager Brandon Hyde on the construction of the 28-man roster
But decisions being up in the air is common to every major league camp. They were all rushed, and all had squeezed schedules.
Other candidates for starting jobs include the Baltimore native Bruce Zimmermann and Dean Kremer. Kyle Bradish, the organization’s No. 9 prospect, has thrown four scoreless innings this spring.
To be continued.
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