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?
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.