Indulge me for a moment.
Here are three pitching lines heading into late Monday night:
Pitcher A: 7 Gs (6 starts), 1-1, 6.15 ERA, 33 2/3 IP, 31H, 8 HR, 20BB, 24K, Op avg., .244
Pitcher B: 9 Gs (9 starts), 2-3, 7.19 ERA, 41 1/3 P, 56H, 7 HR, 21BB, 31K, Op. avg., .318
Pitcher C: 7 Gs (7 starts), 1-3, 4.58 ERA, 39 1/3 IP, 42H, 3HR, 15BB, 27K, Op. avg., .273
What we can derive from these faceless numbers is that none of these pitchers has been good. That B, in particular, has been horrendous.
Looks like A has the more unhittable stuff, but can’t throw strikes and gives up way too many homers. B is getting hit all over the park – a .318 opponents’ batting average – and isn’t putting hitters away.
And C appears to have the best overall numbers, partially because of fewer walks and a lower home run rate.
So, who are these three struggling hurlers?
You probably figured out the first two, Orioles’ right-handers Ubaldo Jimenez (A) and Kevin Gausman (B). I wanted to put their statistics side-by-side to make a small point.
We’re all somewhat concerned about Gausman, but figure he’ll turn it around. He’s young (26) and still learning. Jimenez, on the other hand, is considered a lost cause and is a constant lightning rod for criticism. He’s older (33) and has that albatross of a contract (four years, $50 million) that ends this season.
But I think it’s worth pointing out that as bad as Jimenez has been, he’s actually performed slightly better than Gausman. Now, if I were a betting man, I’d still put my money down on Gausman to have the better season when the final numbers come in.
Still, when you are bashing Jimenez, at least here’s a little context to go with it.
And, a little more context: Pitcher C is Yovani Gallardo heading into his start Monday night. The Orioles dealt Gallardo to Seattle in the offseason for outfielder Seth Smith, who is hitting .301 with a .395 on-base percentage for the Orioles. I doubt there is anyone in the Orioles’ camp that regrets that move.
But it is interesting to see, at this point of the year, Gallardo is actually pitching better, statistically-speaking, than Jimenez or Gausman. Of course, Gallardo is pitching half of his games in pitcher-friendly Safeco Field and doesn’t have to face the AL East lineups on a consistent basis anymore.
League stats worth noting
I know there are a whole lot of advanced statistics out there that can illuminate what’s gone right and wrong for the Orioles as the club nears the quarter pole of the season.
Call me old-fashioned, but I like to occasionally check some of the basic stats – flawed or not — to see if what I think I’m seeing is based in reality. At least in comparison to other AL teams.
My take so far this year: The Orioles starting pitching has been about average, the bullpen slightly better than average and the defense way better than most. I also figured the offense has been OK – middle of the pack – with the speed up some and the power down while striking out a lot and not drawing enough walks.
Either I’m good at this or I’m Captain Obvious. Probably a little bit of both.
The Orioles offense is 8th of 15 AL teams in scoring runs, fifth in team average, ninth in on-base percentage and sixth in homers. They’ve struck out more than all but three teams in the league and walked fewer than all but two. They are last in stolen bases again, but with 11, they are almost at their total from 2016, when they had 19 all year.
The defense has committed 18 errors, third fewest in the AL. And the Orioles’ pitching is, also, what you’d expect. Overall, the team’s ERA is 4.07, 10th of 15 teams in the league. The rotation’s ERA is 4.22, which is ninth, and the bullpen’s ERA is sixth at 3.86.
Overall, the Orioles are tied with the Detroit Tigers for issuing the most walks in the league (138) and have struck out the third fewest number of batters (267). The rotation, led by Dylan Bundy, has been good at times, so it is tied for fifth in quality starts. But the Orioles’ starters are 14th of 15 in innings pitched, while the bullpen has thrown the fourth most innings in the league.
The bullpen also leads the league in saves, an indication of just how many close games the Orioles have endured this year.
This team has not provided a whole lot of surprises in 2017 besides, maybe, the overall record. The Orioles have been pretty good, probably better than most expected. But their weaknesses and strengths are about what we expected coming in.
If you didn’t hear my weekly radio show Monday evening on WOYK 1350 AM in York, Pa. or on the station’s website, you can check it out here or download the show in its entirety on iTunes as part of our BaltimoreBaseball.com podcasts.
This week features an opening rant about why Orioles fans shouldn’t be too concerned about being swept in Kansas City. The Orioles’ performance wasn’t pleasant, but I don’t think it is a harbinger, either.
Also as part of the show, I talk to Dave Sheinin, national baseball writer for The Washington Post, about the Orioles, the Nationals, and his overall thoughts about what’s happening so far in Major League Baseball.
That includes his take on a former Orioles’ farmhand who has blown everyone away with his play this year. Check it out.