You can never have enough pitching.
Entering Sunday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Baltimore Orioles ranked 28th with a 4.39 team ERA. Only the Minnesota Twins (4.45) and Houston Astros (4.83) had higher totals.
The MLB trade deadline is July 31 and the Orioles have been linked to various players, both to improve their rotation and to add depth to the team’s bullpen…
The Orioles have used 13 different starting pitchers this season. On July 9 the team added Scott Feldman to their rotation in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. Should the O’s decide to add another starter, there are several options available including:
Bud Norris, Houston Astros — The Astros will almost certainly be looking to deal any assets contending teams find desirable. Norris should be an option that would not require the O’s to give up a whole lot, unlike the three starters listed below. Norris is 6-8 in 2013 with a 3.63 ERA and against AL teams that ERA drops to 3.28.
Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies — Perhaps a dream situation for the Orioles. Acquiring Lee would give the Orioles a third left-handed starter to go along with Wei-Yin Chen, who just recently returned from the DL. Lee is a 34-year-old veteran who is 10-3 in 19 starts this season. He has a 2.86 ERA and his 125 strikeouts are 6th in the NL. The Phillies have yet to make it clear one way or another if they’ll be buyers or sellers. So Lee may not even be available if the Phils decide to make a push for the playoffs.
Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox — Peavy was once a highly-sought-after pitcher when it became obvious he was leaving San Diego. Now that the White Sox are struggling he could be a potential trade chip. One problem for Chicago, Peavy has not started since June 6 and is listed on the DL with a rib fracture. He is 6-4 in 11 starts this season and in those starts held opponents to a .247 average. Peavy made a rehab start for the double-A Birmingham Barons on Sunday and had thrown 90 pitches through five innings.
Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs — Garza could be the most valuable starting pitcher available and has been linked to many teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers to name a few. He is 6-1 this year with a 3.17 ERA. Garza is 5-0 in his last five starts and has surrendered just two earned runs or fewer his last six starts.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney however, the Orioles may no longer be considering Garza an option.
Unless there is a dramatic change, the Orioles are out of the Garza trade talks. Too much cost in prospects and money to them.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 14, 2013
In the Feldman trade the Orioles parted ways with Pedro Strop, who was a key reliever for the O’s in 2012. His success did not carry over to 2013 for Baltimore, Strop allowed 18 runs in 22.1 innings. But since the move to the North Side, Strop has allowed no runs in 5.2 innings while striking out seven batters. On Friday the club recalled Jairo Asencio from triple-A Norfolk in an attempt to bolster the bullpen. Outside options for the Orioles include:
Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers — Known as K-rod for many years with the Angels, Rodriguez found his old form with Milwaukee this season. He has allowed just three earned runs in 21.2 innings for the Brewers. The Orioles have AL-save leader (32) Jim Johnson as their closer, but acquiring Rodriguez could provide some stability on the back end of the pen and provide Johnson, who has a 3.77 ERA and six blown saves with some competition.
Kevin Gregg, Chicago Cubs —A familiar face to the Orioles organization, Gregg spent the last two seasons in Baltimore before signing with the Cubs this past offseason. In 33 appearances for the Cubs, Gregg has a 1.95 ERA. His 17 saves rank him 8th in the NL. Gregg has two blown saves this season, the first coming on June 29 against Seattle and the second on July 7 against Pittsburgh.
Jim Henderson, Milwaukee Brewers — Henderson is a towering six-foot-five-inch righty who is in his second MLB season. He has a 2.43 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 34 appearances for the Brew Crew. He has a small salary of $492K and likely would not cost the Orioles a whole lot.
As baseball heads into the All-Star break, everyone takes a deep breath before what should be an intense second half of the season begins. The AL East is fairly tight with the Boston Red Sox leading the Tampa Bay Rays by 3.5 games heading into Sunday’s games. The Orioles trail the Rays by two games and half a game behind Baltimore is the New York Yankees.
The Orioles second half of the season will feature 34 games on the road and 32 Camden Yards. They will play AL East foes 32 times, including 21 games in September alone. Their opponents have a .518 win percentage which makes their remaining schedule the toughest in the majors.
So as they said last year in Baltimore, “Buckle Up.”