The Duke Effect

A few quick notes before I fall asleep concerning the O’s late-night signing of Justin Duchscherer. (If you’re wondering about the title, A’s beat reporter Jane Lee informed me that he goes by Duke.)

As it stands now, the rotation looks to be Jeremy Guthrie, Duchscherer , Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen and Jake Arrieta, with Chris Tillman also a possibility. This signing helps the Orioles in that they don’t just give away a rotation spot. It fosters competition with guys like Bergesen, Arrieta, Tillman and top prospect Zach Britton, which is what manager Buck Showalter has been preaching for months.

Right now, I’d speculate –barring an injury — Tillman and Britton start the year in Triple-A. The organization isn’t looking to move them to the bullpen because it’s extremely rare to go through a whole season with just five starters. They need Tillman and Britton to pitch every five days, and if they’re in Norfolk they’re only a phone call away.

Tillman still needs to find a way to translate his Triple-A success into the Majors on a consistent level, while Britton started last year at Double-A, so more seasoning isn’t necessarily a bad thing. To varying degrees, the O’s arms –sans Guthrie — are all still learning.

Also, keep in mind that Duchscherer has been injury prone and there’s no guarantee that he will make it through the season without a trip to the disabled list. This signing helps the O’s in that if he stays healthy and productive he earns his money with escalating clauses. If not, the Orioles have other starters and they really didn’t waste a lot of money, since it’s a small base deal.

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