What are the internal options for the 2018 rotation? Here's a list (and it's not pretty) - BaltimoreBaseball.com
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What are the internal options for the 2018 rotation? Here’s a list (and it’s not pretty)

The Orioles need to overhaul their starting rotation in 2018.

That’s not a radical statement. I’m not breaking any news. Everyone knows it.

Based on starting rotation ERA, the 2017 Orioles posted the worst mark in the modern-day history of the franchise – dating back to when the team moved to Baltimore more than six decades ago. The club’s starters combined for a 5.70 ERA, easily destroying the previous worst mark of 5.51 in 2008.

Unless plans change as the offseason progresses, the Orioles likely won’t bring back four of their six primary starters from last season – Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Wade Miley and Jeremy Hellickson. Those four pitchers accounted for more than half – 86, to be exact – of the Orioles’ starts in 2017. But they also combined for a 6.76 ERA and averaged less than five innings per start. That’s horrendous.

Right-handers Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy will hold down the first two spots in the 2018 rotation. So, as my colleague Dan Connolly noted in a recent Q&A on BaltimoreBaseball.com, that means the club needs to add three starters in less than five months before Opening Day.

But the Orioles have a couple of problems…

For one, as Dan mentioned in the Q&A, the club isn’t going to win a bidding war for a top-of-the-rotation starter. And thanks to Camden Yards’ reputation as a hitter-friendly ballpark, you’re probably not going to see many mid-level starters picking the Orioles if other teams are interested. While the Orioles could deal from a position of strength – their bullpen – to acquire some new starting pitchers, that would leave them thin in that area if the rotation reinforcements don’t work out.

No matter how they do it, one simple fact isn’t changing: The Orioles need to replace more than half their starts in 2018. With that in mind, we created a list of internal candidates who could fill the void. We’ve ranked these pitchers from most likely to least likely to help the major-league rotation in 2018.

Based on that criterion, you’ll notice that several of the club’s top pitching prospects aren’t on this list.

Left-hander Alex Wells, who won the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year award after going 11-5 with a 2.38 ERA in 25 starts for Low-A Delmarva, will need more time in the minors next year. The same goes for the Orioles’ 2016 first- and second-round picks – right-hander Cody Sedlock and left-hander Keegan Akin – who battled injuries throughout the 2017 season and didn’t dominate at High-A Frederick the way that they did with Short-A Aberdeen during the previous summer.

Since he’s only 19, last year’s first-round selection, DL Hall, will progress slowly through the system. And a handful of other lower-level pitchers may be on the right path – but won’t provide immediate help.

Let’s take a look at the internal possibilities, listed in order of potential help each can provide for the 2018 season. Warning: It’s not an encouraging list. You may want to shield your eyes occasionally.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Orial

    November 24, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Isn’t Yankee Stadium a hitter friendly park? Don’t hear complaints there. Think it’s more the team’s direction than it is the park they play in.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 24, 2017 at 10:11 am

      I think we’ve been over this before. But I’ll write it once again. If you are going to pay the most money to win a bidding war there is no concern over ballparks. The Yankees do that. The Orioles don’t. And when the money is even, or close to even, pitchers choose elsewhere. There is no smoking gun here.

  2. Tiss

    November 24, 2017 at 10:11 am

    This has been mentioned as comments to other posts here before, but if the O’s don’t go after one of the real SP prizes in FA (Ohtani, Darvish, Arrieta)–and I wholeheartedly support them not doing so–I am less than enthused about the remaining options. Lance Lynn? Andrew Cashner? I think Jason Vargas might be ok, and I love Alex Cobb, but I’d rather we go with some combo of these young guys than pay FA money to a guy like Lynn or Cashner to become Jimenez or Gallardo version 3.0

    • Dan Connolly

      November 24, 2017 at 10:55 am

      I just don’t think penciling in more than one of these guys in April is a good idea. In fact, it’s a bad idea. They should be 6th starters/depth. I just don’t know how the Orioles add three that are better given their FA philosophy.

  3. Birdman

    November 24, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    The starting pitching situation, as described in this article, is so bad that the Orioles have little realistic prospect of contending in 2018. The best direction for the team is to consider 2018 as a “rebuilding” year, and focus on 2019 and beyond – trade Manny, and Britton or Brach, during the off-season, for pitching prospects, and sign Schoop to an extension.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 25, 2017 at 9:40 am

      That’s certainly a thought. But I don’t see them doing that.

  4. steveboothe12

    November 24, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    The internal list of candidates validates the need to add to the group by free agency, international market, and trades to enhance the competition.

    I feel Britton should be dealt for at least one pitcher to add to the competition mix plus it will save salary money to direct towards free agent options. I think Brach should be kept as he’s shown to be adequate as a closer & much cheaper than Britton. If Brach gets injured. O’Day or Givens could fill-in.

    Of the group listed, Castro is the most obvious but you’re taking him out of the Long relief role he did well at in 2017.

    Mike Wright is who I believe might be the best 5th starter choice as he does have the physical skills (size) to be dominate (unlike Wilson).

    Violent Agreement in that no more than one off the internal list should fill a starting role.

    To be a legit 2018 playoff team & knowing the Os don’t typically sign high profile Starters, trading Manny to bring back a starter plus a serviceable 3rd/SS (maybe move Beckham over to 3rd due to limited defensive skills) might be the best course-of-Action as his FA price-tag is beyond the team’s likely affordability.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 25, 2017 at 9:43 am

      I’m very curious to see what happens with Wright. He has the stuff to be a major leaguer — and a good one. He just hasn’t been able to put it together. I still would like to see him put in the bullpen and left there to see how he can handle a setup role pitching 3-4 days a week

  5. Bkr555

    November 25, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Time to think out of the box. Starters 1) Bundy, 2) Gausman, 3) Cobb, 4) Britton, 5) Givens 6) Castro….move Brach to closer. Sign one solid middle reliever….you’ll end up having to rely more on O’Day and Hart but it gives bullpen space and only costs for Cobb and a middle reliever. Then resign Manny and teach Trumbo and Davis how to hit that little white thing!

    • Dan Connolly

      November 27, 2017 at 9:49 am

      I just don’t see a move to starter for Britton. His stuff is so much better one inning at a time

      • Bkr555

        November 29, 2017 at 5:56 pm

        and that was established by the same knuckleheads who couldn’t get Arrieta to pitch well. Britton could be one of the top five starters in the league. The ace they are looking for is right there. Teach Britton some swagger and give him the ball. The same for Givens. Those two guys have unhittable stuff when they are on. The more they pitch, the less some bad pitcher will pitch. And if Britton bombs as a starter, resigning him becomes alot easier. Look at it this way…if you were in the other teams dug out….who would you want to see penciled in against you? Asher, Ynoa, Wright or Britton? anybody but Britton. What exactly is the down side?

  6. 54orioles

    November 27, 2017 at 9:27 am

    I’m going to be 73 on opening day and can throw a pretty good curveball and a fast ball the breaks 50 mph. I might fit in with this group. Time for my nap.

  7. 54orioles

    November 27, 2017 at 9:29 am

    I’m going to be 73 on opening day and I can throw a pretty good curveball and my fastball breaks 59 mph. I should get a shot with this group. Time for my nap

  8. 54orioles

    November 27, 2017 at 9:30 am

    I’m going to be…….wait did I say that already?

    • Dan Connolly

      November 27, 2017 at 9:48 am

      Hahahaha. I think you could do it. But I’m not sure you’d give them a lot of innings. Sometimes naps last 3 hours too

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