27 June 2016

Orioles Rotation is Fine or The Rotation is Falling, The Rotation is Falling.

One Day a HR was hit and Oriole Little Thought the Rotation Was Failing
More money, more complaints.  That often is the way things roll.  The Orioles spent a good bit of change on Ubaldo Jimenez and the team is experiencing a typical even year performance from him (note - I cannot wait to see who is the Jimenez Whisperer in a collection of articles in October and November).  People then rejoiced that a potentially injured Yovani Gallardo signed a reduced deal and showed up with a reduced fastball.  It is enough to forget that Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, and Tyler *one second...checking roster* Wilson have actually performed well or well enough.

All in all, the starting rotation has neither been a problem or all that good although the common refrain from the crowd is that it has been a horrific disaster.  How does this compare to years past in terms of percentile performance in the American League?
If you want to go by ERA, then the starting rotation has been better than last year and equal to nearly playoff bound 2013 club.  If you want to strip a little luck and defense from things, then the rotation is tied with the best one since 2012.  If you want to now strip luck, defense, and normalize home run rates,  then it also comes up as tied for the best starting rotation in the past five years.

Another way to look at performance is based on a simple view on performance.  A while back, I ran a study on what first division, average, and bottom rung pitching rotations look like based on ERA+.  Amazingly, it follows a pretty even spread:

Slot 1 2 3 4 5
1st Div 125 115 105 95 85 105
Average 115 105 95 85 75 95
Bottom 105 95 85 75 65 85
Orioles 124 112 97 72 63 94

As it stands, the Orioles have an average starting rotation, which is neither good nor a problem.  The club has a first rate bullpen and lineup, so it can work with a mediocre starting rotation.

How does the club get to a first division rotation?  It needs to replace Jimenez' 63 with a 110 ERA+.  So someone like Orioles' pitching prospect Zach Davies ().  Unfortunately, the club traded him away last year for some guy wearing a Gerardo Parra jersey (that deal was panned by me at the time and it was expressed by several scouts in the game that the Orioles gave up way too much for half an unsustainable season of Parra).  Outside of Davies, Drew Pomeranz' breakthrough or high water point season fits the bill with his ERA/FIP/xFIP slash as 2.76/3.32/3.64.  Jeremy Hellickson can also fit into that group (4.23/4.42/3.81).  You can also argue that Sonny Gray is a hopeful candidate (5.03/4.49/4.18).

Regardless, the point is that as the Orioles are four games up in the AL East with a strong record that they really have no major weakness.  Their starting pitching is not good, but we need to be realistic.  When describing the club, we should not act like Chicken Littles.  The sky simply is not falling.  That said, the club's average starting rotation does have quite a bit of room for improvement.  If starting pitching improves, the club improves from a strong playoff contender to a team barreling down the AL East freeway into the post-season. 


Pip said...

Thinking outside the box:
Bearing in mind that we have very little to trade, and very little additional money to spend, but that we only need to replace our bad 5th with a better pitcher, has there been any investigation of 1) another team's 6th or 7th starter 2) any older AA or AAA guys who haven't succeeded in the Show but who still have genuine potential?
I was specifically looking at Texas. Their 7-8 guys are being used now because of injury, but they are all expected back shortly. But there are doubtless other teams who have guys who would be of affordable interest and a probably improvement on Wright/Jiminez( granted, that bar is very low.)

Roger said...

Spahn and Sain and pray for rain (or lots of HRs.....) :-)

Roger said...

How about we offer the Padres Jimenez, Reimold, Walker, Wilson, Wright, DJ Stewart, and cash for Pomeranz and Melvin and the O's pay for both Jimenez and Upton? If not that then a subset of that (not including Stewart) for Hand and Upton. Then the O's should give Aquino a shot at starting (and Hand if that doesn't work out).

Roger said...

Here's another thought. Go after Lucas Harrell. He's showing some stuff in Atlanta but not enough to be high profile - could be had cheap.