Orioles' pitching implodes again as collapse continues - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Paul Folkemer

Orioles’ pitching implodes again as collapse continues

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

If you want some good news about the Orioles, it’s this: they cannot get mathematically eliminated from the playoff race in June.

If you want some more good news about the Orioles … sorry. I’m fresh out.

The Orioles’ return to Camden Yards after a 1-7 road trip wasn’t quite the momentum-changer they were looking for. Their 11-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals was ugly in nearly every facet of the game.

The Orioles’ offense holds part of the blame. The bats managed just two runs and five hits against Cardinals ace Carlos Martinez and two relievers, marking the seventh time in their last nine games the Orioles have scored three or fewer runs.

Once again, though, the biggest culprit in the Orioles’ demise was their starting pitching. Kevin Gausman showed no signs of turning around his brutal 2017 season, coughing up five runs in 5 2/3 innings. His outing included nine hits, two walks — including a bases-loaded free pass in the third — and all-around shaky command.

“Just not very good,” Gausman said. “I felt like I threw a lot of good pitches today, but I ended up walking some guys and got in way too many hitter’s counts, and they did a really good job of battling and putting the ball in play. And it seemed like anywhere they hit it, they hit it right where our guys weren’t. … It kind of seems that’s how it’s going for us right now.”

Gausman raised his season ERA to 6.60 and his WHIP to 1.92, both the worst marks in the AL of any qualified pitcher.

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“When he does get behind in the count … he’s having trouble getting the count back in his favor, and they’re able to box out some pitches on him unless he can get a breaking ball over behind in the count,” manager Buck Showalter said. “One quality of pitchers when they’re pitching well is they can locate a fastball down and away to get back in the count, and that’s been a little bit of a challenge for him.”

Gausman is far from the only struggling Orioles starting pitcher. The entire rotation, save Dylan Bundy, has been an unmitigated disaster of late. During the Orioles’ 3-10 stretch, they’ve had only two quality starts. And both of those (Chris Tillman on June 4 and Bundy on June 9) hit only the bare minimum requirement — six innings, three earned runs.

Orioles’ starting pitchers have a 9.72 ERA in their last 13 games, and an 11.95 mark in their last 10. Things have gotten so bleak that Ubaldo Jimenez — who was banished to the bullpen with a 7.17 ERA on May 22 — has been re-inserted into the rotation in place of Alec Asher. Jimenez will start Sunday against the Cardinals, with Asher going back to a bullpen role.

Will Jimenez’s return help? Or is it just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?

“This will pass, especially us starters, it’s going to turn around at some point,” Gausman said. “Obviously I wanted to be the one to kind of right the ship today, and it just didn’t work out that way.”

One thing’s for certain — if Orioles’ starting pitchers don’t step up their game, the club will find itself hopelessly out of contention sooner rather than later. The Orioles have already dropped to last place in the AL East, and right now, they’re threatening to have an extended stay in the cellar.

The Norfolk shuttle comes derailed 

When the Orioles were winning games early in the season, they were able to dip into their pitching stockpile at Triple-A Norfolk with mostly favorable results. The Orioles wrung some quality relief performances from the likes of Alec Asher, Logan Verrett and Gabriel Ynoa, shuffling players back and forth from the Tides to assure they always had a fresh arm in the bullpen.

Lately, though, the Orioles’ shuttle has met with diminishing returns, as a parade of overmatched relievers have come up from the minors and struggled in the bigs. Stefan Crichton has an 8.49 ERA in seven games among several stints. Jimmy Yacabonis walked six batters in 3 1/3 innings and was banished back to Norfolk after two outings, while the Orioles jettisoned veteran Edwin Jackson after he was scored upon in all three appearances.

The latest blowup came from Ynoa, who was recalled from Norfolk before Friday’s game. His only previous appearance with the Orioles was a stalwart relief outing of six shutout innings May 5. Ynoa, though, has struggled at Norfolk all season — going 1-5 with a 6.93 ERA in nine starts — and he flatlined Friday against the Cardinals, coughing up three home runs. By the time he left the mound, he had transformed a 4-1 Orioles deficit into a 10-1 rout.

“Fastball was up,” Showalter said. “Just a lot of center-cut fastballs. It’s been some of the challenges he’s had in Norfolk, and it carried over here some. He had one good outing for us. They had a predominantly right-handed lineup. We were hoping he could duplicate that, but he didn’t.”

Considering the struggles of the Orioles’ starters, the lack of quality pitching options at Norfolk is a glaring issue. The club, at this point, doesn’t have many decent in-house alternatives for its struggling staff.

Cardinals return under different circumstances

This series marks the Orioles’ first matchup against the Cardinals since Aug. 8-10, 2014, which was one of the more memorable weekends in the club’s recent history.

During the first game of that series, the Orioles held an on-field ceremony celebrating the franchise’s 60 years in Baltimore, complete with a lavish post-game fireworks and laser show that included memorable highlights from the team’s storied history. More than 20 members of the Orioles’ Hall of Fame were on hand for the festivities, including Cal Ripken, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray and Jim Palmer.

The Orioles’ on-field performance was pretty impressive, too. They took two of three games from the Cardinals in that series — including blowout wins of 12-2 and 10-3 — and extended their division lead to five games en route to winning the AL East pennant that season.

This time around, the atmosphere surrounding the club is entirely different as the club continues its slide. The Cardinals’ return to Baltimore did little to help the Orioles recapture their 2014 magic.

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Schwarzstop

    June 17, 2017 at 8:51 am

    I might be mistaken, but I swear I heard a couple of weeks ago Buck call McDowell the best pitching coach he’s ever had!?! Was he just trying to pump the guy up or was does Buck actually believe it? How can the whole pitching lineup, starters and relief, go from passable to complete failure in two and a half months with the best pitching coach Buck has ever had??? Just shaking my head…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      June 17, 2017 at 9:53 am

      Ummmmmm… I’m sure this will draw the guffaws again from all the rabble around here, but in addition to the coaching change, perhaps the absence of Matt Wieters has something to do with it? After all, I never hear Scherzer or Strasburg complaining about how poorly he frames pitches! I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the multitude of complaints from the Tap Room patrons about how Matt couldn’t call a game either.

  2. garyintheloo

    June 17, 2017 at 9:14 am

    If it is back to Ubaldo this quick then the Os have already hit the iceberg. A national columnist once said he did not seriously consider the standings until Father’s Day so here we are. It appears DD finally got to the bottom of the bargain bin and we can question the signings of Jimenez, and Cruz and Gallardo for one year, with the loss of first round draft choices. None of the ones was did make are in any position to help. It might be time for a partial tear down considering trades of Machado, Britton and Brach at this point. We’ve already been criticized for passing on the international prospects so let’s get some others back.

    • JHHUFF76

      June 17, 2017 at 9:48 am

      IT’S TIME TO RELEASE JIMINEZ. THE GREAT DD HAS TOO EAT THIS $$ AND HIS BIG ASSED EGO.

      LOOK PASTED AAA DOWN TO AA, WE KNOW DUQUETTE GREAT PITCHING DEPTH OF GNOA, WILSON, ETC SUCKS. TRY ANOTHER WAY OF THINKING FOR ONCE.

      I DON’T THINK DUQUETTE AND SHOWALTER GET ALONG VERY WELL.
      NOW ON MACHADO, HE WANT BRING BACK MUCH BUT, I AGREE IT’S PROBABLY TIME TO MOVE ANYTHING THAT ANOTHER TEAM WILL TAKE. YOU’LL NEVER MOVE CHRI$$ DAVIS., NO ONE WANTED HIM TWO YEARS AGO EXCEPT DD AND ANGELOS.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        June 17, 2017 at 9:57 am

        Well said.

      • Mau

        June 17, 2017 at 9:42 pm

        Trade DD and Angelos, but especially DD.

        They have to do something. The starters have sucked for a while now. 0 inning eaters and that includes Bundy who routinely rides high pitch counts also. Bundy is a keeper though. Have to rebuild it around him.

  3. Deez

    June 17, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Has anyone suggested that Gausman take out the contacts and go back to his eyeglasses?

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      June 17, 2017 at 9:48 am

      Deez, I like the way your think! And yest, I’ve mentioned in several times before in this forum this year. I’ve also suggested that maybe he needs to start chewing on one of those stupid mouthpieces again!

      But alas, Connolly and the rest of the crew around here never seem to take me seriously. Evidently, neither the Oriole players or coaches read this site.

  4. Deez

    June 17, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Personal question for Paul. I taught a Paul Folkermer in 4th grade at Linthicum Heights Elementary in the early 60s. Any relation?

    • Paul Folkemer

      June 17, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      Yup– chances are, anyone named Folkemer is related to me somehow. I believe the one you’re referring to is my dad’s cousin.

  5. Dillon

    June 17, 2017 at 9:58 am

    It’s obvious the pitching has been terrible this season. I certainly was expecting more from Gausman. Maybe it is the pitching coach or maybe outside of Bundy, our starters just aren’t very good.

  6. Winger

    June 17, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Well what we are doing whatever that is, not working. At what point do we shake things up. Fire the pitching coach. Can’t see that he’s adding anything.

  7. garyintheloo

    June 17, 2017 at 10:36 am

    I do agree that how the Orioles handled their pitching coaches in the last off season was questionable even then and we’ve have a few who disappeared completely after they left town. While we’ve done well with relievers in the past we can’t seem to make reliable rotation starters. I am and was not a Tillman fan because I think he never developed a finisher pitch which always raised his pitch count. If you are not going to make the 2017 playoffs at least make the year interesting with 1. coaching changes and 2. injecting some real talent and that goes for the rest of the roster beyond pitching. In addition to what I wrote earlier I would move on from Hardy and even Schoop for the right offer.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      June 17, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      What exactly are you expecting in return for Hardy?

      And trading Schoop? He’s turning into an all star caliber 2nd baseman and you’d trade him? Bartender .. I’ll have whatever it is this man is having!

      • Paul Folkemer

        June 17, 2017 at 3:29 pm

        That sort of illustrates the problem, Boog. You’re not going to get anything of value for guys like Hardy or Tillman, so if you really want to acquire good young players for a rebuild, you’re going to have to trade guys like Schoop to get them.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          June 17, 2017 at 8:33 pm

          Schoop looks like he should be a keystone type player for the organization for years to come. Why trade him for a couple of unproven prospects? You speak of acquiring “good young players” .. isn’t that exactly what Schoop is? As far as a rebuild, I’m dead set against it.

          • Paul Folkemer

            June 17, 2017 at 10:38 pm

            Right, a Schoop trade would only happen if the Orioles go through a full rebuild (including trading Manny, Britton, etc.). I don’t think that’s in the cards, so I’m betting Schoop won’t be on the trade block anytime soon.

      • garyintheloo

        June 17, 2017 at 4:39 pm

        Boog right now I’m drinking water with lemon cause it is damn hot in the Loo. I would prefer to keep the guys I named but you’ve got to give something to get something and it appears we need a lot. If you remember that was the case in 1988 and they turned over the roster and took the 1989 season to the final weekend. I immediately thought they just gave away Arrieta and Strop so I hope that doesn’t happen this time but with this administration I’m not sure.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          June 17, 2017 at 8:41 pm

          Gary, this is Dan Connolly’s virtual Tap Room. We don’t drink water with lemon here. mo matter how hot it gets. As far as 1988? Inexplicably, that season has been wiped from my memory. I would respectfully ask you to please never mention 1988 in the forum again.

          • garyintheloo

            June 17, 2017 at 10:55 pm

            My religion doesn’t approve of consuming alcohol but as the price of real conversation in a virtual bar I’ll treat Boog and Dan. Boog if you’re going to forget 198* then cherish 1989 as we may need to do that one again soon. Happy Day Daddies!

  8. Eldersburg Enigma

    June 17, 2017 at 10:59 am

    I think Ubaldo starting is a lame last-ditch to try to bring value to him prior to the deadline.

    Gausman, of course, will get jettisoned in the next 18 months and turn into the next Jake.

  9. TxBirdFan

    June 17, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Coming into this year I was naively upbeat about our starters. Tillman, Gausman and Bundy were the best 1-3 we’ve had in awhile. But Lordy I’ve never seen such a fast and furious meltdown. Buck’s record over the past month is probably his worst ever, and there are no signs of it getting better. If his magic is gone I wonder if he will stay around.

    • Mau

      June 18, 2017 at 4:47 pm

      And just when you think the Birds are cooked, Ubaldo throws a gem a day after Miley gets huge run support. It’s confounding how this team rolls. Mancini is a holy terror.

  10. Eldersburg Enigma

    June 17, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Feels like a Ravens board…fire the offensive coordinator! Fire the defensive coordinator! That’ll fix it!

    There’s a talent shortage in the rotation, two huge bullpen injuries, and a one dimensional offense that’s not evening handling its strength well right now.

    The Cardinals were here 3 years ago–why aren’t the O’s playing them in St. Louis?

  11. Ezrine Tire Award

    June 17, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Trade Gausman to the Cubs that’ll set him right.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      June 17, 2017 at 8:35 pm

      That was the best comment of the day my friend.

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