Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun
July 8, 2013
Orioles manager Buck Showalter has said, unless notified otherwise, he is going with what he has. That means four of his rotation spots are virtually decided: Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris.
The fifth starter -- or the other available spot, anyway -- is still in limbo.
If the Orioles don't add an established starter between now and Opening Day, then it should be a wide-open competition among lefties Zach Britton, pictured, and T.J. McFarland and right-handers Steve Johnson and Kevin Gausman. Converted reliever Brian Matusz and Alfredo Aceves, who received a nonroster invitation to camp, have also been told they'll have a chance to compete for the rotation.
Britton, 26, has to be considered the favorite simply because the former heralded prospect is out of minor league options. Showalter has said on more than one occasion that he would like Britton to respond with his back against the wall the way Tillman did when he was out of options.
McFarland, who spent all of his rookie season in the Orioles' bullpen, likely will start in the Triple-A Norfolk rotation unless he excels in the spring. Matusz has had mixed results as a starter, but he has been fantastic as a reliever and is probably too valuable to move out of the bullpen.
Gausman is the club's healthiest top prospect -- Dylan Bundy continues to recover from June elbow surgery -- and potentially could push his way onto the 25-man roster with a great spring. Johnson, like Matusz, Aceves and Britton, might end up in the bullpen if he loses the rotation fight.