Baltimore Orioles: Pitching Staff Preview

ITW takes a look at how the pitching staff is shaping up for the 2008 Orioles. Inside, we handicap the likelihood of several arms making the opening day staff.

Rotation Locks

Jeremy Guthrie- The top returning starter from 2007 and last year's feel-good story, Guthrie should be this year's opening day starter. Last season represents the high end of his capabilities, but he is still a durable mid-rotation type for a team that could use lots of solid innings.

Daniel Cabrera- Probably the only guy in this rotation with true ace potential, Cabrera has nevertheless frustrated fans with his inconsistent play and unwillingness to take instruction. 2008 could prove to be a pivotal year for the hulking right-hander, but the O's can afford to be patient with him.

Adam Loewen- A screw in your pitching elbow is never a good thing, but Loewen offers enough upside for the O's to overlook his lack of polish. Here's something you're used to hearing about O's pitchers- if he could get his walk rate down to league-average, he could be a #2 starter this year. However, the O's would be foolish to try and push him past 140 innings or so.

Steve Trachsel- The Orioles will look to get some more innings out of Trachsel as he tries to stave off the inevitable another season. Unfortunately, it's unlikely they'll be able to peddle him for Scott Moore and Rocky Cherry a second time. On the plus side, the triple-A rotation will offer lots of options when the O's get tired of dealing with a 6.00 ERA.

Rotation Battle

Matt Albers- The 'upside' option for the fifth slot, Albers has the stuff to be a mid-rotation guy but needs work on his command. If the O's decide they need consistency from this slot, then he's probably not the choice.

Brian Burres- Burres is a classic swingman, offering the versatility to make starts or provide long relief. Unlike Albers, Burres is certain to be on the major league staff even if he doesn't win the fifth slot.

Rotation Longshot

Jim Johnson- A contender for the fifth slot in name only, Johnson is destined for Norfolk's rotation.

Jon Leicester- See Johnson, James. Leicester does have a somewhat better shot at a long-relief job, since he's already 29 and offers less upside.

Bullpen Locks

George Sherrill- Ladies and gentlemen, your 2008 closer. Sherrill seemed like an odd choice for a trade target for an obviously rebuilding team, but the O's may let him rack up some saves and peddle him for more prospects at some point.

Jamie Walker- The Orioles overpaid for a lefty specialist, but they overpaid for the right lefty specialist. Walker is a solid 7th inning option and will provide some consistency on a young staff.

Chad Bradford- Change 'lefty' to 'righty' and re-read the Jamie Walker comment.

Bullpen Battle

Greg Aquino- The only healthy arm with closer experience, Aquino should be a solid middle-relief option. He's 30, so there's not much reason to get him work in Norfolk, and I expect him to open in Baltimore.

Randor Bierd- The Rule 5 pick has good stuff and has impressed in camp. The Orioles aren't in position to be turning away talent, so they'll make room for him in a long/middle-relief role.

Fernando Cabrera- Cabrera hasn't been in any game action yet this spring, due to an elbow issue. If he doesn't open the season on the DL, he'll have to be passed through waivers to get an assignment in the minors. Cabrera has too much stuff for the O's not to make room for him.

Jim Hoey- Hoey has nothing left to prove in the minors, but he isn't exactly wowing anybody in camp. He could be forced to Norfolk if it becomes a numbers game.

Dennis Sarfate- A typical O's arm- heavy on stuff, light on command. He's out of options, so he'll make the team or the O's will lose him. My money is on him getting a middle-relief job. In time, his command will determine if he becomes anything more than that.

Lance Cormier- He couldn't have asked for a better situation, but the righty has looked poor in camp. Right now, he's likely on the outside looking in.

Bullpen Longshot

Rocky Cherry- Cherry has a 0.00 ERA in spring, but he's likely a victim of having options left. He should start in Norfolk and be one of the first call-ups when the need arises.

Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at

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