Orioles rumors: Brian Matusz, Bud Norris could change roles

Jason Miller

The Orioles are looking for starting pitchers and a new closer. That search appears to have begun from the inside out.

Brian Matusz put together an excellent 2013 campaign for the Orioles in his first full season out of the bullpen. Bud Norris was acquired from the Astros last season in an effort to boost a struggling rotation. However, the two pitchers might be trading roles for the 2014 season, according to Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun.

Matusz finished the year with a 3.53 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 51 for the O's last season. While Norris, who was picked up at the trade deadline, maintained solid peripheral stats, he struggled in Camden. His home run-to-fly ball ratio nearly doubled in the hitter-friendly confines of Baltimore, and that caused his ERA to go up almost an entire run after the switch from Houston.

The Orioles have recently flirted with the idea of moving Bud Norris into the closer's role, and lefty reliever Brian Matusz will get a chance to rejoin the rotation this spring. Last year's closer, Jim Johnson, was traded to the Athletics on Tuesday in an effort to clear his large salary from the payroll. If the club uses Norris to replace him, it would provide Matusz another spot in which to compete.

Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman, and Miguel Gonzalez seemed poised to return to the O's rotation next season, but beyond those three, nothing is set in stone. Matusz has expressed his desire to start games to manager Buck Showalter in the past, though Baltimore has several other young pitchers with the same designs on starting.

Kevin Gausman, Zach Britton, Steve Johnson, and T.J. McFarland will also vie for spots in the rotation. The 21-year-old Dylan Bundy, who debuted in the majors in late 2012, remains unavailable thanks to undergoing Tommy John surgery that ended his 2013.

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