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.
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.