Plenty of questions about the Orioles' broken rotation, but there are no obvious fixes - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Plenty of questions about the Orioles’ broken rotation, but there are no obvious fixes

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

I think I wrote plenty Sunday night on just how bad the Orioles’ rotation has been so far this season.

A quick recap: The Orioles now have a 6.02 rotation ERA, worst in the majors and it would be, by far, worst in club history for a full year (5.51 ERA in 2008).

In fact, it would be the ninth worst mark for a full season for any rotation since 1913, according to baseball-reference.com’s database.

So, the rotation is awful. Been established. Now what?

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That’s the hard part. Maybe the impossible part.

Sure, you could fire first-year pitching coach Roger McDowell if you want a fall guy. But that seems pointless. That’s like firing a chef who made a meal with week-old food. This isn’t McDowell’s fault; this rotation was relying on plenty of ifs before a pitch was thrown in 2017.

You could clean house in the rotation, waive Ubaldo Jimenez or Wade Miley or send Kevin Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk.

That’d be fine if you want to make a statement. But that might be all it does. You really don’t have anyone clearly better to insert into the rotation. Seriously.

You could try Alec Asher or Jayson Aquino again or wait until Mike Wright gets healthy. But the starters at Triple-A Norfolk have been, as a group, not good.

Chris Lee has a 6.32 ERA in his first 17 starts, Aquino has a 4.58 in 13, Tyler Wilson, a 5.09 in 12, Jordan Kipper, 5.07 in 11, and Gabriel Ynoa, 7.64 in 12.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter was asked about his trust factor with his current starters, most of which have had some sustained success previously in the majors. His answer: “As opposed to what? It’s been a challenge for us and we have to figure it out.”

You could hammer executive vice president Dan Duquette for not having more foresight to improve this rotation. And, though that’s fair criticism, there wasn’t much available last offseason in terms of rotation help. In fact, the market was so poor, Duquette actually unloaded a starter, Yovani Gallardo, to Seattle for Seth Smith last year. Gallardo is 3-7 with a 5.65 ERA in 17 games and is now in the Mariners’ bullpen.

Rotations stink just about everywhere in the majors; but the Orioles are the worst of a rocky bunch.

And I hate to be the bearer of bad news – as if you didn’t already know this — but probably the only way it gets better is if these guys do their jobs in the next few weeks.

They haven’t for much of this year. And, in the first three games of the second half, all losses to the Chicago Cubs at Camden Yards, Gausman, Miley and Jimenez allowed 21 runs in 11 1/3 innings. So, the immediate future’s not exactly looking bright.

“I think everyone wants to do their job,” Jimenez said. “Every five days you want to go out there and be there for your team. We all know how things have gone right now.”

Jimenez has been a stand-up guy, as always, about his consistent troubles. So has Miley and Gausman and Chris Tillman and even Dylan Bundy, in the few times he’s struggled.

This group is not lacking in character or work ethic. What it’s lacking is positive pitching results.

And I’m not sure anyone knows how to turn that around. Or if anyone can.

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    July 17, 2017 at 7:19 am

    So in my upcoming Fantasy PPR league draft …. I’ve got to choose between Tom Brady & Leveon Bell as my keeper …. suggestions anyone?

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 9:49 am

      I’d probably go RB. Not that I’m looking. Really. I mean it.

  2. woody

    July 17, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Firstly I hope given what we have to play for, that Bundy has at most 2 or 3 starts left before we shut him down. He’s had a good season, excellent in parts, and has already thrown enough pitches for someone with his track record.

    For the remaining 4 in the rotation, i’d keep them there – though it looks to me that Gaussman could do with missing a couple of starts to clear his head. Buck is short of pitchers with options in the bullpen but that will soon change once we move on any one or all of Britton, O’Day, Brach as rumoured. This will give us some flexibility to call up a couple of starters, and despite my worst fears, we may as well give Wright and Wilson regular starts for the remainder of the season – at least they’ll be giving it everything. Richard Bleier should also be considered for starts.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 9:50 am

      I wouldn’t expect all those relievers to be moved. I just don’t see THAT kind of fire sale.

  3. ZantiGM

    July 17, 2017 at 9:04 am

    Let’s give Lucas Long a start and DFA-Jimenez and let’s take a look at Sardinas at SS..Kim should be replaced by Chris Dickerson or Logan Schafer and it is time to see what Mountcastle can do at AA Bowie.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 10:27 am

      I know ya love prospects Zanti, but I think throwing Long into MLB right now would be a mistake. Let him taste success at various levels as a starter first. He’s a great story. But no need to rush him right now.

  4. 5brooks5

    July 17, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Maybe we can get the draft pick that MLB ALLOWED us to sign,after we missed the deadline, to jump into the rotation. Or maybe we can trade Britton and Brach to the Brewers for Davies, Hader and The Drake,oh no wait he doesn’t have any options! Or, maybe Brady, AKA the mole, can bug the locker room to try and find out, what the problem is? I’m sorry I just had to vent; I feel better now on this Monday morning.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 10:27 am

      Oof Brooks. I’m glad we are here for ya.

  5. T

    July 17, 2017 at 11:00 am

    If the staff is pretty much set how about change up the system? Start a reliever. Get through 2 or 3 clean innings. Then plug in a starter – decide who based on how things are going and matchups – and tell ’em to give you 5 innings. Then close it out if we have a lead. Might avoid problems getting through the opposing line-ups a third time. Gets young pitchers lower-pressure “starting” experience. What do you think? We rarely get more than 5 inning a “start” anyway. Brach/Givens gives us first 2 inning of every game? Close with O’Day and Britton? What is there to lose?

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      We asked Buck about these type of scenarios. Said they’ve looked at all possibilities. But this type of arrangement could be done for a couple days before relievers would have to be rested for a few days. And then some would be dealing with injury risks if pitching when fatigued. In other words, worth discussing but doubtful in practicality.

      • woody

        July 17, 2017 at 5:52 pm

        It wouldn’t work the way T described it as you can’t ask your relievers to pitch more innings overall, but this strategy has its merits. How many times have givens, oday, brach, Britton pitched in non save situations this past month? Lots. If Brach has to pitch today as he’s not pitched since Friday and needs an outing, why not use him in the first, when the game is 0-0 and it’s guarenteed to matter? It would also mean that your starter would come in against the bottom half of the order in the 2nd, a much easier introduction. I think asking these starters to give us 4 innings every 4th day would mean no extra pitches thrown by anyone and would give us options to mix it up – like having a right and left hander available for 4 innings any given night

  6. karks

    July 17, 2017 at 11:09 am

    I guess people have been waiting for the rotation to fall apart the past couple of years and it’s finally happened. They weren’t great in previous years, but were good enough to go along with the great bullpen and powerful lineup. But the whole thing has derailed.

    Dan’s right – the only hope (legitimate or not) is for the guys who are already here to start pitching better. There is no cavalry coming to save this team.

    And what the heck do they do next year? Sure, Tillman, Miley and Jimenez will go. But we have zero internal options. The team is famous for not buying on free agent pitchers (and look what happened when they finally did). I guess it can’t get too much worse than it already is.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      But you bring up a great point. The 2018 rotation will have major ifs too

  7. Bancells Moustache

    July 17, 2017 at 11:30 am

    I would agree that it can’t all be lumped on McDowell, the week old food analogy makes sense, but you can’t let him skip either. No. he didn’t buy the groceries, but the god awful smell emanating Tillman and Gausman’s previously savory plates came out of his kitchen.

    I’ve been saying for a while now, this is a lost season, so its time to start giving guys a look for next year. Right now the word coming from Showalter seems to be “hey, we’ve got no one better so these are our guys”. That’s an understandable point of view, but it sounds a little defeatist. So these guys can continue to go out and stink up the joint and rest comfortably knowing they won’t lose their job? Doesn’t seem like the right way to go about things, with the historic level of crappiness we are watching on a nightly basis.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      But you owe some of these guys millions AND you have no one to replace them. Plus, it’s not like these guys don’t have incentive beyond if they’ll be replaced. They are all pitching for a job somewhere next year.

  8. kmad5

    July 17, 2017 at 11:42 am

    This is how bad it is… I know the Orioles are patting themselves on the back for the Gallardo trade, but he would actually be an improvement for 4 of the 5 current starters.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 2:04 pm

      Nope. That’s his ERA while pitching half his games at Safeco. Not Camden Yards.

  9. Schwarzstop

    July 17, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    “Rotations stink just about everywhere in the majors; ” and Major League Baseball was talking expansion a week or two ago.!?! If expansion means moving Oakland and Tampa Bay to Montreal and Charlotte, that’s not expansion, that’s just movement. If the expansion talk is about adding one, two, three, teams… We have a problem. With thirty teams, Rotations stink just about everywhere in the majors; Can you imagine how pitching staffs will be when MLB has thirty two teams? God help us!!!

    And go ahead and put me in the column with most others who have no answer for the Orioles Pitching Staff!

    • Dan Connolly

      July 17, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      No question pitching as a whole is diluted 1-12 per team. Lots of good ones, but overall The depth is a puddle.

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