Tuesday, August 3, 2010

VandenHurk impressive in Norfolk debut

Making his first start for Triple-A Norfolk, Rick VandenHurk pitched seven innings, allowing only one run on four hits against Indianapolis. He also struck out four and walked just one, while earning the win.

With the addition of VandenHurk to the organization, the Orioles currently have a few starting pitching options in Norfolk: Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, and VandenHurk. The O's rotation -- which currently consists of Brian Matusz, Jeremy Guthrie, Kevin Millwood, Jake Arrieta, and Brad Bergesen -- has struggled mightily, but it's still very young. Millwood won't be in Baltimore next season, but he may stay with the team for the rest of the season if the O's don't 1) work out a deal with another club, or 2) simply release him. Matusz, Guthrie, and Arrieta will all be in the rotation next season barring a trade, while Bergesen's ineffectiveness may cause him to be converted into a reliever.

Tillman seems like a lock to be added to the rotation next season, but then again, that's what many fans thought heading into spring training. The 22-year-old Britton is also an intriguing option, but he's only pitched 31.2 innings in Norfolk and probably needs some more seasoning before being called up. With that being said, if he continues to pitch well, I wouldn't be shocked for him to get a start or two before the season ends. (Or maybe not: According to David Golebiewski of FanGraphs, "[t]he chances of Britton getting ample major league innings this season are slim — the O’s aren’t playing for anything of consequence, and the southpaw is a little more than 30 frames away from his previous career high workload." For more information on Britton, check out that link.) VandenHurk also seems like a likely addition to the pitching staff in September.

If I had to make a guess on what the O's rotation looks like in 2011, here's what I'd say:


But, again, it's too early for that, especially since most fans probably haven't seen VandenHurk pitch yet. The O's may decide to sign a veteran starter, or they may make a few trades. It's also possible that Britton will be ready by then. We'll see -- it's up to you, Mr. Showalter.

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