Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
Probable Starters: Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Bud Norris
Possible Starters: Kevin Gausman, Zach Britton, Suk-Min Yoon
Long Shots: Brian Matusz, T.J. McFarland
The Orioles have plenty of starting pitching candidates to go around. Tillman and Jimenez (pictured) are guaranteed a spot in the rotation, and Chen is pretty much a lock, while it would be surprising to see Gonzalez begin the year anywhere but the starting five. That leaves just the fifth spot up for grabs.
Norris has to be considered the favorite for the job, as the O's acquired him on July 31 last season just before the trade deadline. He finished out the season in the team's rotation, and looks to impress fans with a full season in the rotation, assuming he wins the job.
Gausman, a top prospect for the O's, showed flashed of brilliance last season in the rotation and the bullpen, but also struggled mightily at times, leading one to believe he may need more minor league time. And with Britton out of options, the O's are going to give him every chance this spring to earn a spot with the team, and that includes a crack at the starting rotation.
New signee Suk-Min Yoon will also get a crack at the rotation, but the O's just simply may not have room for him, plus they may need him more in their bullpen to help fill it out.
For Matusz and McFarland, though, it's a much tougher battle into the rotation. The O's have one of their left-handed bullpen arm, Troy Patton, serving a 25-game suspension at the start of the season, and as Matusz was a valuable left-handed bullpen arm for the team last year, it'll be even tougher for him to make his way out of it to start the 2014 season now that Patton will be gone for three and a half weeks. The same logic applis with McFarland, though he could even begin the season at Triple-A Norfolk.
Beyond these guys, the O's aren't exactly loaded with quality starters to help the club. But O's fans can expect to see Gausman getting starts some time this year, and possibly even right-handed prospect Mike Wright, though that's simply speculation of my own.