One of the main competitions – really, one of the only competitions – in
this year is for the fifth starter’s role.
A whole lot of names have been thrown into the mix:
Hunter, in particular (and Matusz, potentially) is earmarked for the bullpen. McFarland, a Rule 5 pick, may have to be offered back to the
Jurrjens has probably fallen behind Arrieta, Britton, Johnson and Matusz, but he does have experience and an All Star nod on his resume.
I still believe it is Arrieta's spot to lose, but he's going to have to pitch well for the next two weeks. Because, frankly, everyone in the group is acquitting themselves well.
"I see guys trying to present themselves as being guys that can help us win games, the team. I definitely don't see anybody pulling against [one another]. They’re just taking care of their business when it's their day to pitch,” Orioles manager
Here are the ERAs for the candidates: Johnson, 2.00; Britton, 2.08; Arrieta, 2.38; Matusz, 2.70; Hunter, 2.70; McFarland, 4.15; Jurrjens 7.27.
Perhaps more telling, the four guys really in the competition – Johnson, Britton, Arrieta and Matusz – have combined for 16 1/3 scoreless innings in each of their last outings.
Johnson, who threw four scoreless innings Sunday, said there is no question that the competition pushes everyone in a good way.
"It definitely does. You saw it at the end of last year how every start out there someone had to get the job done or they were going to find someone else to do it for the next time around," Johnson said. "Every time out was like, 'To Be Announced.' And I think that puts a little pressure on you and kind of makes you perform a little better. It's a lot of fun going out there with so much on the line. It's definitely good to get those zeros."
The strangest part is that most of these guys have been teammates throughout the minors and majors. They are good friends, and one is going to have to beat out the others.