With the spring opener now only two short days away, the Baltimore Orioles are turning their attention to the Tampa Rays. Let’s be frank; wins and losses don’t matter at this point. I’m going to say that again for clarity; wins and losses don’t matter at this point. But you play like you practice, so the Orioles owe it to themselves to play hard in these spring games.
So here’s an interesting question: who gets the [Grapefruit League] Opening Day start on Friday? This isn’t the regular season, so it really doesn’t matter. Some might put the newly re-signed Chris Tillman forth as a possible starter. However while he’s the longest tenured Oriole on the pitching staff, I’m not sure he’s been in camp long enough.
I would go with Kevin Gausman as a starter on Friday. Mind you, whomever starts won’t be in the game but for perhaps two or three innings. There have been years where the first turn through the rotation has only seen guys throw one inning. This isn’t the regular season where there’s even a rotation (despite the fact that I used that term a moment ago). It’s just about getting your work in at this point and having a strong spring.
In fact, these games are all but scripted in terms of who pitches and when. Buck Showalter will have a schedule for each game as to who’s pitching that day, how many innings, which innings, etc. And barring an emergency or an incredibly poor performance, most managers will stick to that schedule regardless of what happens in the game. That’s just how it works.
So regardless of whomever gets the starting nod on Friday, it’s not something into which I would read too much. I’m going with Gausman because while I also think he’ll be the Opening Day starter, they’re going to want to get him as much work as possible. This season, and thus this spring, is very important for him – as well as for Dylan Bundy.
Update: I’d like to thank reader CBoemmeljr for the information that Mike Wright will be starting on Friday against Tampa.