Assuming that Hammel, Chen, and Gonzalez are entrenched as the top 3 starters and that Tillman has a long leash, and also assuming that Arrieta is basically on trial in the 5th spot, Let's take an updated look at who is next in line for Arrieta's job, should he fail.
Steve Johnson - Johnson performed well when given the chance last year both as a reliever and as a starter. He is close to getting back with Norfolk. Johnson is kind of the antithesis of Jake Arrieta, a pitcher who gets the most out of what he has.
Tsuyoshi Wada - Being paid over 4 million this year. The O's will want to get something on their investment and will give Wada every oppurunity to earn his money. Could be #1 on this list if he's stretched out enough if and when the need occurs. Pitched a couple of innings in extended ST so he's close to coming back on a rehab assignment. Buck has spoken very highly of Wada also which also should put him high up on the chart.
Zach Britton - Pronounced 100% healthy at the beginning of ST, the initial reports were glowing but command problems, particularly with his sinker, cropped up and he got sent to AAA. On Saturday night, Britton recorded all 15 of his in play outs by groundball. Britton just put himself back in the picture. A few more starts like that and he could be on the top of this list.
Kevin Gausman - He and Bundy are clearly the most talented. Gausman looks to be more ready than Bundy judging from ST and Gausman's first two starts at Bowie. The question is, just how good is he, and is he quite ready for the majors and how much more seasoning the O's want to give him. You also have to wonder if the O's want to check in on the other candidates before they make this type of move.
Jair Jurrjens - The only one with true ML success, Jurrjens impressed Showalter at times in ST but has been up and down. The knee is still a major concern and although he looks better than last year there are serious doubts he can regain his previous ML form. With the out in his contract, it will force the O's to make a decision by June, but with other candidates he will have to make the O's on merit.
T.J. McFarland - McFarland would allow the Orioles to merely switch Arrieta and McFarland without making a roster move. Of course, Arrieta has options and can be sent down so maybe it's not a strong factor. Buck and DD like him and he was lights out in his first appearance. However, one would think they'd like to "protect" him for most of the season for low pressure situations like the first one.
Dylan Bundy - Assuming the tight elbow doesn't crop up again, Bundy is still behind schedule. The question is if he'll be ML ready as a starter by June or so.
Eddie Gamboa - Total longshot but worth noting. Gamboa is reportedly throwing the knuckler this year and was one out away, on Saturday night, from his second strong start in a row. If not for so many other candidates, I'd say he had a chance but most likely spends the year in AA/AAA trying to master the knucker.
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