No one needs a reminder of how fickle pitching depth can be.

For a few weeks in the winter, Corbin Burnes was joining Kyle Bradish at the top of the Orioles’ rotation, then Bradish’s elbow injury cropped up. For a few months, there was no thought that journeyman Albert Suárez was going to be the April rotation stopgap when Tyler Wells’ elbow started barking.

There were questions about how Bradish and John Means would fit into the rotation upon their returns, and then Grayson Rodriguez woke up with a sore shoulder. There were times in the winter and spring when it was unclear whether Dean Kremer or Cole Irvin would be in the rotation; they have six and five starts, respectively.

Here’s the thing about all those pitchers: They’re pretty good. In the case of Burnes, elite. A healthy Rodriguez and Bradish are on their way to that level. The rest would claim a spot in all but a few rotations around the league.

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Pitching depth can take a lot of shapes. It can be a host of major league-ready starters, be they prospects or veterans, waiting in the wings in Triple-A. The Orioles have a few. It can take the form of an optionable bullpen, with many pieces to rotate in and out as performance and workload require. The Orioles don’t exactly have that.

What they have, albeit on tenuous ground given how often the words “elbow” and “shoulder” have been written here, is quality. In abundance, at times. And, in an era of baseball when stuff plays, and quality stuff keeps hitters at bay, the Orioles’ depth is right in front of us.

“Pitching depth is really just the amount of quality arms that can get you quality outs,” said Irvin, whose first answer of how he would quantify pitching depth was simply to name his employer, the Baltimore Orioles.

“By quality, I mean you can rely on them night in, night out. And I think we have every aspect of that on this team. It’s pretty impressive.”

In this Yankees series, the Orioles held a lineup that scored 30 runs combined in the two games preceding their arrival in Baltimore to six in four games — their fewest in a four-game series since the 2014 Orioles held them to six runs in four games Sept. 12-14.

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“That might have been our best-pitched series, honestly, from the starts we got to how the bullpen pitches against a really good offense,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I thought this series, we really, really threw the ball well.”

Orioles starter Dean Kremer contributed to the success against the Yankees with seven innings Tuesday. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

This came in a week when, with closer Craig Kimbrel missing time due to back tightness and the bullpen being broadly worn down, there was no shortage of questions of how the team would manage. The answer, somehow, was to do not much at all. And it worked.

Cionel Pérez was activated from the injured list, replacing Dillon Tate, and on Monday he chipped in to a shutout led by Rodriguez. Dean Kremer went seven innings Tuesday, holding the Yankees to two runs, before big outs from Keegan Akin and Jacob Webb. Burnes gave up just two runs as the Orioles were shut out Wednesday, then Bradish’s return was a good one Thursday. He pitched into the fifth, and a reasonably rested relief corps handled the rest.

If we’re going to worry about pitching depth as April turns to May, we may as well acknowledge that we are seeing what it looks like right in front of our faces.

“That’s really where pitching depth comes from, the ability to hand a guy a ball and be able to get the job done,” Irvin said.

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To wonder about whether the club has enough pitching isn’t about now, of course. And Hyde knows the landscape can change quickly. He provided a vague update Thursday on Wells, noting that he played catch on Wednesday and is going through more tests. Rodriguez could be out any length of time with this fresh shoulder issue, and the possibility of complications or recurrence of Means’ and Bradish’s elbow injuries will never be far from mind as they pitch.

Beyond Suárez, rotation depth includes the likes of Bruce Zimmermann and prospects Cade Povich — who is dominating at Norfolk — Chayce McDermott and Justin Armbruester. On the relief side, there are depth options, but many are unproven or aren’t here for a reason. Whether that is sufficient is a question worth asking.

To deal in such hypotheticals has value, but it also discounts the part of Major League Baseball where the puzzle is often about piecing together enough quality outs to win on that particular night. More often that not, those quality pieces are available to the Orioles, especially now in the rotation with Bradish and Means back. And I’d much rather a team have that quality depth than depth for depth’s sake.

Jon Meoli is the Baltimore Banner's Orioles columnist and head women's ice hockey coach at Loyola University Maryland.

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