O's rotation on pace to easily be worst in club history - bottom 10 in MLB in last 100 years - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

O’s rotation on pace to easily be worst in club history — bottom 10 in MLB in last 100 years

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

You know the Orioles rotation is bad. Really, seriously, horrendously bad.

You don’t need me to tell you that.

But I was curious how bad.

And the answer is mind-boggling.

I’ve covered this team for 17 seasons. Only once in that entire time have the Orioles had a rotation ERA that was in the top half of baseball at the end of the year That was in 2014, when the Orioles won the American League East for the first time since 1997.

The 2014 rotation, which had five guys post a 3.65 ERA or lower in 20 or more starts, had a 3.61 cumulative ERA that season, 12th best in the majors.

In every other year, going back to 2000, the Orioles’ rotation ERA has been 21st or worse in the majors.

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Twice in my tenure, the Orioles have been 30th of 30 in starters’ ERA – in 2011 and 2008.

So, a bad rotation is nothing new in these parts.

Yet this 2017 group, with four starters carrying a 5.40 ERA or higher, could be the standard bearer for terrible pitching units.

No other rotation in Orioles history has been able to do for a complete season what these Orioles are doing right now, 91 games into the year.

There’s a little history in the making here.

When Ubaldo Jimenez allowed six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings Sunday, it pushed the Orioles’ rotation ERA to 6.02 for the season (worst in the majors, of course, eclipsing the awful Cincinnati Reds’ rotation).

The Orioles have never finished a year with a rotation ERA above 5.51; that mark was set by the 2008 club, which had a trio of starters with ERAs over 6.00 in 17 starts or more (Garrett Olson, Brian Burres and Radhames Liz). That club, which also had Steve Trachsel post an 8.39 ERA in 10 games (eight starts), lost 93 under Dave Trembley.

And this rotation has a fighting chance of burying that one in the record books.

In fact, if this rotation gets no better, it will be just the 11th team since 1913 – the extent of baseball-reference.com’s database – to post a 6.00 rotation ERA or higher for a full year.

Only one club since 2000 has had a rotation ERA above 6.00 at season’s end.

Ready for this?

It was the 2003 Texas Rangers, who were managed by Buck Showalter. That was his first year in Texas. That team lost 91 games.

So, it’s possible that this Orioles’ rotation could make franchise history – it’s likely, really – and join an elite group of awful starting pitchers in baseball history.

And it still wouldn’t be the worst Showalter has had to endure in his managerial career.

Now, that’s really something.

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. MaxPower

    July 16, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    Garrett Olson, Brian Burres and Radhames Liz. Thanks for the memories Dan.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 10:36 am

      I’m here to please.

  2. OrangeBird21

    July 16, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    blow it up and start over

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 10:37 am

      Of course, what you get in return has to be key in that starting over.

  3. BamaOsFan

    July 16, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    Some of this HAS to be on McDowell. Buck can defend him all he wants, but we’ve gone a major league step backwards as a pitching staff. Sad to see.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 10:38 am

      Sure, McDowell is the pitching coach. He has some culpability. But I don’t think you fire him. Solves little imo

  4. Winger

    July 16, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    And yet the “pitching coach” is still employed. Ubaldo still pitches like crap but that’s ok he has the best home run dance on the bench. I’m sick of seeing Gausman spit be located better than his pitches. I love the O’s but seriously time for changes. Major changes.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 10:40 am

      Again, sounds good as a vent. But not sure ‘major changes” will fix things — short-term anyway.

      • Alg0nqu1n

        July 18, 2017 at 12:24 am

        Short-term it makes sense to trade Brach for a very good starter. Of course, Angelos may refuse to deal with the Nationals.

        This club really needs to START OVER. Out of respect to the MLB and Baltimore fans.

  5. woody

    July 16, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Blow it up, shut down Bundy, sell off anyone who we can move.

    ps – I see Parker Bridwell is thriving away from our setup…

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 10:41 am

      Bridwell has had a few nice starts. Great for him. I would t coronate yet, but yes he could have been an option here.

  6. Osfan73

    July 16, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    The one year we had a rotation era in the top half of baseball was 2014 when we won the AL East…..You pretty much said it all there at the beginning….you have a good rotation you win or are in a good position to do so. It’s pretty clear what needs to be done and that right soon, starting with this years trade deadline. From then on out pitching has to be made a priority.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 10:42 am

      Problem is it has been made a priority — at least in the draft — and it still hasn’t worked, consistently anyway.

  7. Camden Bird

    July 16, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    Cue the “fire Buck!” nonsense.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 10:43 am

      It’s funny. I almost never hear that one. Mob seems to pinpoint Duq or McDowell.

  8. TxBirdFan

    July 16, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    Very sad. I flew from Dallas to Baltimore for the weekend in part to see the Birds – what a waste of time and money. You can’t blame it all on pitching. Except for Friday night’s comeback attempt we didn’t have an offense either. The entire team looked lethargic and had little energy. Fire Sale!!!

    • Liamandcarolinesdad

      July 17, 2017 at 12:28 am

      Well when the team spends thirty minutes on defense every damn inning, they’re gassed by the time they grab a bat…

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 10:45 am

      The offense is too sporadic and too homercentric. But it’s not the primary problem. Real tough to turn it up another notch against top competition when you’re down a touchdown in the third.

  9. Strovel

    July 16, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Reminds me of the ’87 pitching staff.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 10:45 am

      Worse. No O’s rotation scratches this surface.

  10. ATCguy

    July 16, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    I feel your pain, Tex… and can relate. I’m going to be in eastern Washington state next month when the birds are in Seattle. I’d been toying with the notion of getting a hotel room, buying tickets, and driving over to catch the final 2 games of that series (night game, followed by afternoon game). Right now though, no one could pay me to go through the trouble of going to watch them. I’ll simply grill myself a steak, make myself comfortable in a chair beside the campfire, and watch the game on my RV’s outdoor TV.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 10:46 am

      Man, that sounds like a good evening.

  11. John in Cincy

    July 17, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    “In every other year, going back to 2000, the Orioles’ rotation ERA has been 21st or worse in the majors.”
    …………………………………
    McDowell should shoulder very little of the blame. just as Wallace, Mazzone or other decent Orioles’ pitching coaches in the span should shoulder it.

    No, 2000 was the last year Mussina pitched for the O’s, before signing on with the Yankees. That was the beginning of the end as far as quality starters in Baltimore, something Angelos has to this day never properly addressed.

    When in 2004 he finally came out of the spending freeze brought on by Belle’s career-ending injury, he made the mistake of loading up on bats with the signings of Tejada, Lopez, and Palmeiro, instead of using some of the money on a front end starter, then he nixed a deal that would have brought Burnett to town the following year.

    Often comparisons regarding the current club to Earl Weaver’s contention that pitching, defense and three-run homers are what wins ballgames, but far too little emphasis has been placed on the most important of that trio — pitching — and that needs to change in a hurry if this team is going to be a contender again in the not to distant future.

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