The Orioles hope that Dylan Bundy is healthy enough to make their Opening Day roster. If he is, he’ll be in the bullpen, and assuming no trades or injuries, six of the seven bullpen spots will be accounted for.
Brad Brach, Zach Britton, Mychal Givens, Brian Matusz and Darren O’Day are the others. Of those, only Givens has options remaining, and he may prove too valuable to be sent down to the minors. But, if there’s a roster crunch, he could be optioned—even for only the 10-day minimum.
Who has the best chance to be other pitcher in the bullpen?
For now, the favorite would seem to be T.J. McFarland. He has another option remaining, and he’s a left-handed long man. That’s very important to manager Buck Showalter because for the moment all his starters are right-handed.
None of the others in the bullpen project as a long man though Brach has shown himself to be capable of throwing two or three innings if needed.
Vance Worley is another possibility. Worley, who was a no-show at last week’s minicamp, could compete to be the fifth starter, too. He fits into the bounceback category, and has experience both starting and relieving in the majors.
If the Orioles want a combo man, Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright are possibilities, too. Wilson is seen as a starter, Wright may now fit the reliever profile, but both are likely to see time in both Baltimore and Norfolk. Wilson is also a long shot for the fifth starter role.
If Bundy has to start the season on the disabled list, Wright is a possibility to make the club, and so is Chaz Roe, who had a great two months when his contract was purchased from Norfolk. Roe faltered in the second half of the season, and needs a big spring to stay in the big leagues. He has no options remaining.
The Orioles added four minor league pitchers to the 40-man roster late last year: Parker Bridwell, Chris Jones, Christopher Lee and Andrew Triggs. None of them are real possibilities to start the season by running down the Orange Carpet, but all could be in the big leagues during 2016. The Orioles are especially high on Triggs.
Jason Garcia remains on the 40-man roster, but he’s likely to begin the season at Bowie as a starter. Last year’s Rule 5 pick needs more experience.
Oliver Drake had some big moments in his first few big league appearances, but like Roe needs a big spring to show the Orioles he’s made some progress.
C.J. Riefenhauser was at the Sarasota minicamp, and he’s a left-hander, which is always valuable, and he has options, which can be even more valuable. While he probably won’t start the season with the Orioles, he’s likely to spend time with them this season. Riefenhauser, who has big league experience with Tampa Bay, was acquired along with Mark Trumbo from Seattle.
There will be some non-roster pitchers on hand Feb. 18 when camp opens. The Orioles haven’t released the list of spring training invitees, but one interesting name is Jeff Beliveau.
He was signed last month though the deal was never officially announced, Beliveau, who had labrum surgery on his left shoulder last April, and thinks he’ll be ready to pitch this spring. He threw some at minicamp, and his major league experience with the Cubs and Rays will help.
Pedro Beato is another minor league signee who will be in spring training. Beato is in his second stint in the Orioles organization though he has never pitched with the big league team. He has major league experience, but is likely to pitch in Norfolk for a second straight year.
The Orioles have also invited longtime farmhand Ashur Tolliver to spring training. Tolliver has been in the organization since 2009, but has never pitched above Double-A.
Tolliver will probably start out in Norfolk, but the Orioles have definite interest in him. The left-hander was on display at minicamp, and he could find his way into the big leagues sometime in 2016.
NOTES: Zack Dodson, a pitcher on Bowie’s roster, has been suspended 100 games for his third positive test for a drug of abuse. Dodson was signed as a minor league free agent in November. He had been in the Pittsburgh organization.
-According to Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Orioles re-signed minor league pitchers Andy Oliver and Cody Wheeler as well as infielder Sharlon Schoop, Jonathan’s brother. They also signed infielder Alex Liddi, first baseman Aderlin Rodriguez and pitcher Greg Ross. Liddi played 61 games for Seattle from 2011-13.