Baltimore Orioles: The starting pitching problem

Orioles pitcher Wei-Yen Chen has been the teams best starter thus far

Orioles pitcher Wei-Yen Chen has been the teams best starter thus far

 

For the Baltimore Orioles starting pitching staff this season, the unreliable play has been about as hit or miss as an actual pitch. While each starter has showed that they are capable of pitching 8 or 9 quality innings, they have also showed they can not even last into the 2nd inning.

The Orioles are fortunate that their 2 biggest prospects, Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy, are both starting pitchers, but until they are both ready to take the mound, the 5 starters the Orioles currently possess will need to solidify themselves.

Chris Tillman, the ace by default of the squad, has a 4-2 record with a 4.21 ERA, and has actually done a good job throughout the season of going deep into games to give the bullpen, which has recorded the most innings pitched in the league, a rest. That was until Tillman’s last start in Pittsburgh where he lasted 1 inning.

Lefty Wei-Yen Chen seemed to be the safe starter of the group. Without overpowering stuff, he seemed to always be capable of keeping the team in the game and going a normal 6 innings like most starters. If anything, Chen has been the teams best starter this season. He is 5-2 with a 4.08 ERA and while he does get the most run support of all of the team’s starters, he has done the best job of giving up the least amount of earned runs on the team with 24.

The most frustrating of all of the starters is Miguel Gonzalez. Gonzalez can last 5 innings in the game before things implode, although he is consistent at doing so. Gonzalez has an ERA under 3 in the first 5 innings of the game, and an ERA over 5 in innings 5+. Gonzalez has pitched well as of late, including last nights game where he recorded the win in 6 innings pitched against the Indians. He now sits at 3-3 with a 4.35 ERA.

The teams biggest disappointment to this point in terms of pitching (excluding “closer” Tommy Hunter), would be Ubaldo Jiminez. The Orioles signed Jiminez this offseason as a veteran starter who in the 2nd half of last season, pitched as well as any pitcher in the league. The former Cy Young Winner with the Rockies is currently 2-6 for the O’s with a 4.98 ERA. Jiminez has had a couple of good starts, one where he lasted 8 innings. Watching Ubaldo pitch is similar to a Little League game because the ball isn’t being thrown anywhere near the catcher’s target and opposing teams taken full advantage, recording 28 walks, and 58 hits against Jiminez. They desperately need Ubaldo to get back to his late season from from last year and contribute on a major basis.

The teams final starter, Bud Norris, has quietly been an average to at times above average starter and fits in nicely with the O’s rotation. While he is tied for the team lead for least amount of runs allowed with 24, and also possesses the lowest ERA of the starters at 3.83, he has a 3-4 record. This is a result of a mixture of things, including run support where he has the lowest of all pitchers on the team. Norris seems capable of turning it on, or on the flip side off, at any point and each start is different from the last.

Overall, the biggest fault with the starting pitching for the Orioles is the lack of inning they record. For now, barring a trade for a proven starter, the Orioles will need to rely on these 5 pitchers until prospects Bundy and Gausman get to the majors and if all goes well, take 2 spots away from the starters the team has now.

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