The Orioles' top-half of the rotation, for better or worse, looks set.
John Means, Alex Cobb and Asher Wojciechowski appear primed to hold down the top three spots in the team’s starting rotation. After that, the waters muddy quickly.
“Unfortunately, it is fluid right now,” general manager and executive vice president Mike Elias said. “We’re looking for pieces in the back end of the rotation. I think we have options here, but it’s something that we’re going to continue to evaluate and keep an eye on. It’s tough, there are playoff teams around the league right now that don’t have fourth and fifth starters. It’s just hard to find starting pitching, and we’re definitely in that boat.”
Means figures to be the team’s No. 1 starter this year after a strong rookie season for the 26-year-old. He posted a 3.60 ERA and a WHIP of 1.135 in 155 innings pitched. He struck out seven batters per nine innings and allowed eight hits per nine innings, too.
The next two, Cobb and Wojciechowski, took different paths to the top of the rotation.
Cobb joined the Orioles as a free agent in 2018 but struggled with injuries all season — he underwent hip surgery and missed the entire 2019 season.
Wojciechowski spent the first half of the 2019 season with the Indians organization before he joined the Orioles in July. He posted a 4.92 ERA in 17 games, and 16 starts, with the Orioles over the summer.
“But with Means, a healthy Cobb back, Wojo, there’s some guys that really have the inside track right now,” Elias continued. “So we feel pretty good about the front end.”
After that, Kohl Stewart, Wade LeBlanc, Keegan Akin and Tommy Milone figure to be the most likely to claim the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation.
LeBlanc and Milone are the two veterans of the group at 35 and 33 years old, respectively. Stewart and Akin are 25 and 24, respectively.
Akin, the team’s 2016 second-round pick, is the only homegrown pitcher vying for a spot. Everyone else on the roster was brought in from another organization, though Stewart was once the most promising.
The 4th overall pick of the Twins in 2013, Stewart made the major leagues in 2018 but has never pitched more than 10 games in an MLB season.
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