Baltimore’s opening day rotation picture is a little clearer now after manager Brandon Hyde revealed he doesn’t believe DL Hall will be stretched out enough to handle a starting workload to begin the season, per Nathan Ruiz of the Baltimore Sun. Hall had been a candidate to take a spot in a rotation that is very much up in the air behind Cole Irvin and Kyle Gibson but was experiencing lower back discomfort late in the off-season, which appears to have put him a bit behind schedule.
The question now for the Orioles is whether they option Hall to Triple-A to begin the season, or have him pitch out of the bullpen in the big leagues. Hall had a brief stint in the big leagues last season, working to a 5.93 ERA over 11 appearances (one start). That did come with a completely unsustainable .436 BABIP, and Hall did post a quality 29.7% strikeout rate and 9.4% walk rate to indicate he did pitch much better than the 5.93 ERA suggests.
Hall was competing for, presumably, one of three available rotation spots. Kyle Gibson and Cole Irvin look like certainties to take two spots, and Hall, Rodriguez, Dean Kremer, Kyle Bradish, Austin Voth and others were candidates to fill the remaining spots. With Hall now removed from that equation, it does increase the chances that top pitching prospect Rodriguez cracks the opening day rotation.
Here’s some more notes from around the AL East:
- Sticking with the Orioles to begin with, and Ruiz reports that utilityman Terrin Vavra is day-to-day with left shoulder discomfort. According to Hyde, Vavra experienced soreness while taking pre-game batting practice. There doesn’t appear to be too much reason for concern given we’re still a little under a month away from the start of the regular season. Vavra slashed .258/.340/.337 across 103 plate appearances during his rookie year last season. He spent time in the infield and outfield, and projects as a useful versatile bench option for the Orioles going into the new season.
- Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports that Mitch White is a few weeks behind schedule but is feeling good and threw a side session today as he builds back from a shoulder impingement suffered in January. White had been a contender for Toronto’s fifth rotation spot, and while there’s nothing definitive ruling him out of that, the fact he’s still a few weeks behind schedule would suggest it’s unlikely he’ll be stretched out enough to be in the rotation picture by opening day. That would mean Yusei Kikuchi, who lost his rotation spot last year, would be the favorite to join Alek Manoah, Chris Bassitt, Kevin Gausman and Jose Berrios in the Blue Jays’ rotation. White, acquired from the Dodgers last summer, struggled to a 7.74 ERA over 43 innings for Toronto last season. That came after a much more promising 56 innings of work with the Dodgers earlier in the season, whereby White worked to a 3.70 ERA. His peripherals were largely the same across both teams, and indeed his FIP for the Dodgers of 3.95 was actually worse than the 3.76 mark he had with the Blue Jays. White is out of minor league options.