“This is Birdland” – the Orioles’ 2012 slogan.
Jake Arrieta had a 5.05 ERA in 22 starts before requiring elbow surgery and missing the final two months of last season. This spring, he has a 6.14 ERA in his four starts. Incredibly, it was a good enough showing to earn him the Opening Day assignment against the Twins this year.
The Orioles didn’t announce their full rotation Monday, but they did state that Arrieta would start the opener and former Rockies right-hander Jason Hammel would go in the third game of the season. The other three rotation spots are expected to be filled by Wei-Yin Chen, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter.
Obviously, no one from the crew really jumps out as being worthy of an Opening Day start. No one in the group has thrown as many as 180 innings in a major league season. Hunter has the best ERA of the four with major league experience, having gone 26-16 with a 4.50 ERA in a career mostly spent with the Rangers. Matusz has probably had the most impressive spring of the bunch, but he went 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA last season.
So, get ready for Arrieta versus Carl Pavano on Opening Day. It’ll count in the standings, if nothing else.
Jon Heyman reports that the Nationals are closing in on a deal with catcher Matt Wieters. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that it’s a two-year deal. UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is for two years, at $21 million. There is an opt-out for him after year one. He will get $10 million in 2017 and, if he returns in 2018, he’ll get $11 million.
Wieters was not expected to go this long without signing, but his market, which many thought would be robust, never materialized. The Nats had been rumored to be interested for months, but they were apparently waiting to swoop in late and get what one presumes will be a bargain.
Wieters, 30, finished last season hitting .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI in 464 plate appearances. The Nationals currently have Derek Norris and Jose Lobaton, so who falls where in the catcher fight in Washington is unclear, but one presumes that Wieters getting a two-year deal puts him at the top of the depth chart.
Ken Rosenthal has an interesting story up about Sergio Romo as he begins spring training with his new team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There is some fun stuff about his family, all Dodgers fans from southern California, but the more notable stuff is about Romo himself, who has dealt with a lot more than has been reported over the past couple of seasons. The loss of three of his four grandparents is a big one, as it has thrust the mantle of head of the family on Romo in ways that he was not fully prepared for. There are also allusions to personal and psychological problems Romo has experienced — there is a vague suggestion of alcohol or maybe just late nights out and perhaps depression, but he is not specific about it — which he worked on with the help of friends and teammates on the Giants and which he now has overcome.
There’s always more going on the lives of baseball players than we as fans know.