The Baltimore Orioles face uncertainty throughout their pitching staff. There are moving pieces in their starting rotation and their plan in the back of the bullpen is decidedly subject to change.
If Tommy Hunter can’t do the job as Orioles closer, one alternative might be Norris. If the Orioles sign Santana, they would have too many starters and Norris could be asked to close. There’s always a trade possibility as well, as Norris still has appeal in the NL.”
The Orioles traded for Norris to bolster their rotation last season, a plan that did not work out very well. A combination of injuries and ineffectiveness led to a 4.80 ERA in nine rocky starts, leaving the Orioles underwhelmed.
Of Norris’s 130 career appearances in Major League Baseball games, 127 have been starts. To thrust him into the closer’s role with that lack of experience would be risky indeed, which says a lot (or very little) about the team’s confidence in Tommy Hunter in that spot. Norris’s stuff could profile well for the role, however. He misses a lot of bats (8.5 K/9 in his career) and has the kind of plus-plus pitch (his slider) to rely on in the pressure of the 9th inning. Still, this would be quite the drastic change for him and for the Orioles.
The Orioles signed and then decided not to sign Grant Balfour. They kicked the tires with Fernando Rodney. Now they are left with Hunter, Norris, and a lot of questions about how to close out those one-run games that have been their calling card in recent seasons.