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Schmuck: The Orioles' April schedule is just crazy

The Orioles face a very tough schedule at the start of the season, facing all five of last year’s playoff teams at least once during March and April.

But manager Buck Showalter isn’t complaining about the competition. That’s just life in the American League East.

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What rankles him — and it should — is the scenario that could develop if the Orioles run into any weather problems Opening Day. If the opener gets moved to March 30, the O’s would then play all the way to April 30 with only one day off (April 12).

Why is this significant? Because that would force the Orioles to front-load their pitching staff while some of their rivals get more roster flexibility.

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“The schedule’s not fair,’’ Showalter said this weekend. “You’ve got teams in our division that can break with four starters and have another position players and have another bullpen matchup piece. Then you've got teams that have to break with five starters. How is that fair? How does that have integrity of a schedule.”

Showalter concedes that the Orioles benefited from the same imbalance last season, so he’s not saying that the O’s have been singled out for some nefarious reason.

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“I’ve looked at it,’’ Showalter said. “If you look at Tampa, Toronto, Boston and New York’s schedule compared to us this year … hey, we had an advantage last year. It’s one of the reasons why we got off to a good start. If I had been on another team, I wouldn’t have been happy about our schedule compared to them.

“It’s something that they could do and everybody had the same challenges. Everybody got to break with five [starting pitchers] or everybody got to break with four. It’s a big advantage.”

The Orioles definitely will need a fifth starter, but it would help a little if the weather holds for Opening Day. With more days off, they could conceivably start the season with Miguel Castro in the long role he filled so well last year and move him into the rotation later in the month if he earns that job.

The way the schedule stacks up, they’ll need somebody to start no later than April 8 against the Yankees.

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