While all of the talk centered on Jake Arrieta's return from offseason elbow surgery and a resurgent Brian Matusz, Eveland impressed manager Buck Showalter this spring, posting a 3.46 ERA over 13 innings.
"Very quietly, after his first outing or so, he pitched real well in the spring," Showalter said.
That, plus Eveland's 3-2 start with a 2.21 ERA with Triple-A Norfolk, made him the O's selection to earn Friday's start.
Showalter said pitching coach Rick Adair had Eveland make a few adjustments toward the end of the spring, and that the results have carried over to the first few weeks of the season, when Eveland has been Norfolk's best pitcher.
Showalter added that a key to Eveland's game is the ability to induce ground balls.
Eveland has been with eight different teams during his 10-year career, posting a 19-24 record with a 5.52 ERA in the Majors.
"He's going to attack the zone, and he's going to eat up innings and make guys get out," said catcher Luis Exposito, who caught Eveland at Norfolk. "He pitches to contact, and I think his mechanics are really good."
Matt Wieters, who caught Eveland on Friday, said their time working together during Spring Training was beneficial in preparing for Eveland's first Major League start of the year.
Wieters had already seen each of Eveland's pitches -- fastball, slider, curveball and changeup -- and knew what he liked to throw in a given count.
"It's nice to get comfortable and in a groove with a guy, and you can do that throughout the course of a season," Wieters said. "But, at the same time, you can get in a groove with a guy in the course of an inning if you really get on the same page."