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Orioles rotation way ahead of where it was at this time last year

Last spring, the dominant storyline throughout camp was the inability for the Orioles' rotation to get on track in time for the season.

Ubaldo Jimenez and Yovani Gallardo had several outings between them where they couldn't get all of the required work in game action because opponents were pounding them, and they ended up in the bullpen. Miguel Gonzalez's spring performance, combined with how he finished 2015, led to his outright release. And while Chris Tillman got into a groove after a hip issue started his camp late, Kevin Gausman's camp ended early with shoulder tendinitis.

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There's a long way to go this spring — manager Buck Showalter reminds media of that every day — but from a health standpoint, and more importantly a performance one, this spring is already shaping up better for the Orioles.

Many of the starting rotation candidates — and a handful of depth pieces — are off to strong starts, and if last year's spring was largely an indicator of how everyone's season would go, that's a good sign.

Tuesday's starter, Kevin Gausman, has now allowed a run on one hit with a walk and three strikeouts in five innings over two starts. Gausman revealed after Tuesday's start that's he's not even throwing his split-fingered fastball, one of his best pitches.

The other young arm in the rotation, Dylan Bundy, bounced back from a start in which he allowed a pair of runs (one earned) in two innings by throwing three scoreless Monday against the Tigers. He has now struck out five in five innings of work without a walk.

Ubaldo Jimenez has made it through two starts without getting chased mid-inning -- a fact Showalter has almost marveled at. Jimenez has allowed a run on six hits in five innings over two starts.

The only of the pitchers penciled into the rotation who isn't on track yet is left-hander Wade Miley, who allowed four runs (three earned) in a forgettable start Friday that ended with him getting hit by a line drive and leaving the game.

And then there's Chris Tillman, who is throwing his second bullpen Wednesday in anticipation of his first game action soon. He hasn't pitched in a game this spring due to lingering shoulder discomfort from the issue that hampered him in 2016.

Otherwise, Mike Wright has been impressive in keeping the ball on the ground despite allowing two earned runs in five innings of work. And Tyler Wilson has fanned three in five innings of one-run ball over two starts.

It's still the early part of spring training, when the old adage is that pitchers are ahead of hitters, and a lot can change in a few weeks time.

"The outing is getting the innings and getting the work done," manager Buck Showalter said. "We haven't had to take a guy out in the middle of an inning. Ubaldo has been able to get his work and stay on the field against competition. I'm just -- knock on wood -- happy about the health so far. Chris is around the corner, and so far, so good. It won't be long before we get to that point where there's a setback that puts us in jeopardy, but I'm comfortable with our depth."

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