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Interesting Decision Looming Friday for Baltimore Orioles

June 24th, 2013 at 12:54 PM
By Josh Michael

The Baltimore Orioles starting rotation has been a bit of a carousel this season due to injuries and poor performances and that streak will continue on Friday. Freddy Garcia would be in line to make the start, but will he is the question.

'Freddy Garcia' photo (c) 2013, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Garcia (3-5) got into the rotation, just as several others have this season, due to injuries and poor performances by others and he has been one heck of a rollercoaster ride for Baltimore. When he made his Orioles debut back in May, he was brilliant and flirted with a no-hitter into the later innings. At the end of May he threw the best game by an Orioles starter this season when he tossed eight scoreless innings while allowing just three hits.

On the flip side, Garcia has pitched some of the worst games by an Orioles starter as well, including yesterday's debacle where he lasted just 2 1/3 innings while allowing seven runs. His ERA this season is now up to 5.77 and he has had two bad starts in a row, so the question is whether or not his time in Baltimore is over.

Many believe that Garcia's time is up, but who would take his spot on Friday and for the next couple of weeks as Wei-Yin Chen is probably still two weeks away from returning to the Orioles.

Baltimore has already had 11 different guys make a start for them this season on the mound and Zach Britton, who makes the start tonight, will be pitching to try and keep his spot in the rotation, thus the Orioles could be looking at two potential starting spots that could need filling if Britton has a horrific outing tonight (although he will probably get at least one more start after tonight no matter the result).

The Birds could elect to keep Garcia in the rotation until Chen returns, but Garcia has posted a 10.19 ERA in four June starts and one relief appearance, thus his recent history would not earn him the additional time and the starts would be better suited for someone else.

So who gets the nod Friday?

One interesting option would reliever T.J. McFarland. The rule 5 pick of the Orioles this offseason has yet to get a chance at starting for this team, but has pitched respectable out of the bullpen for the O's. McFarland is 1-0 with a 4.14 ERA in 18 appearances for the Birds over 41 1/3 innings. The numbers are not electrifying by any stretch, but he has struck out 36 batters and has looked good on a number of occasions. McFarland has surrendered 19 earned runs this season, but it is important to note that ten of those came in just two outings, thus the other 16 appearances resulted in just nine earned runs, so he has pitched fairly well.

'T.J. McFarland' photo (c) 2013, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Another reason for the Birds to give McFarland a shot on Friday is to save an option on someone else like a Kevin Gausman, who has already been called up once this season and also struggled mightily in his last start with the AAA Norfolk Tides.

Using McFarland as a starter on Friday would also free up room in the bullpen for the Orioles to call up an extra arm, especially if Baltimore could make this decision right away. McFarland is not going to be available for at least a couple days due to throwing 4 1/3 innings in relief yesterday of Garcia.

A dark horse candidate for Friday could be Tsuyoshi Wada, the $8 million man, who the Orioles recently got to agree to be optioned to AAA Norfolk instead of forcing the Orioles hand to call him up. Wada, although he struggled mightily in his first six starts with the Tides this season as he was rehabbing his way back from Tommy John surgery, has pitched very well over his last two starts. In his last two starts he has thrown a combined 11 2/3 innings, while allowing ten hits, just three runs, two walks and has struck out eight.

Wada's last two outings are certainly worth noticing, but the overlying issue would be if the Orioles were to call him up to make the start on Friday, would he agree to let Baltimore option him back down to AAA again if he struggles? That may be a question Executive VP/GM Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter may not want to have to answer, but at some point they will.

Who Baltimore will put on the mound for the first of a crucial three game set against the New York Yankees on Friday is yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure, the Orioles can't wait for Chen to get back to Charm City. Oh and in case you were wondering, Wada pitched yesterday, so Friday would be his next scheduled start, but will it be in Baltimore?


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Tags: Baltimore, Baltimore Orioles, Baseball, Freddy Garcia, Kevin Gausman, MLB, Norfolk Tides, T.J. McFarland, Tsuyoshi Wada, Wei-Yin Chen, Zach Britton

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