19 April 2018

There is No Cavalry

As a child, hope sprung eternal for the fate of the Baltimore Orioles season.  Back then, the margins were thinner.  Rich teams and poor teams did not differ all that much from each other.  You could look and see how Alan Wiggins, Don Aase, or Sam Horn would revolutionize the club.  But, times changed.  Media-driven bags of cash have been thrown at clubs, more to the big media markets.  Baltimore was left behind even though they were on the front end of the cash grab.  My knowledge of baseball has also increased and I can see beyond what more pedestrian sources of baseball information report.

This past offseason, we knew starting pitching was an issue.  We knew that three-fifths of the rotation had to be acquired through external means.  We knew that Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman were not sure thing starters.  We knew that swingmen in the bullpen and Norfolk would probably be needed.  We knew these things because it happened before.  It happened last year.  It happened before then, too.  It occurred in 2012.

When Duquette took over the Fall before, he knew he had an issue with the starting rotation.  He had several young players who kept getting torched: Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, and Zach Britton.  The club also did not like the other spots being filled with Jeremy Guthrie, Brad Bergesen, and Alfredo Simon.  This led to a shopping spree.  Guthrie went out and Jason Hammel came in.  Dana Eveland, Tsuyoshi Wada, Randy Wolf, Wei-Yin Chen, Armando Gallaraga, Miguel Gonzalez, Dontrelle Willis, Jamie Moyer, Chris George, Casey Fossum, and Joel Pineiro signed on.  The club also kept Jason Berken and Brad Bergesen around.  All in all, 25 different pitchers started a game in AAA.  Oh yeah, Joe Saunders showed up in August.

2012 began with a rotation of Jason Hammel, Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, Wei-Yin Chen, and Brian Matusz.  2012 ended with a rotation of Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, Joe Saunders, and Steve Johnson (covering for an injured Jason Hammel).  The club went through 12 total starters trying to find the right ones with only Wei-Yin Chen earning more than 20 starts.  For the most part, it was ugly, but it helped the club find useful non-negative value pitching and limited the damage that a full season of starting that Arrieta, Hunter, and Matusz would have done to the club.

In 2017, the club trotted out 11 pitchers to the mound, but had trouble finding anything useful beyond Bundy and usually Gausman.  Wade Miley somehow started 32 games.  The club could not prevent Ubaldo Jimenez from his 25 starts.  The Tillman trainwreck appeared 19 times for a first pitch.  No solutions were found with Jeremy Hellickson (who was highly displeased with being sent to the Orioles in a trade), Alec Asher, Gabriel Ynoa, Miguel Castro, and Jayson Aquino.  The lack of depth prevented the Orioles from mixing around their starting rotation and forced them to keep penciling in arms they knew would not work.

With that experience in mind, one would imagine that the Orioles would then see a massive influx of fringe starting pitching talent on par with the 2012 refitting.  The club was able to snag a decent middle of the rotation arm in Alex Cobb, a backend arm in Andrew Cashner, and a flyer on Chris Tillman.  Rising up in Norfolk were David Hess and Yefry Ramirez.  To beef up MiL options, Asher Wojciechowski, Jayson Aquino, Tim Melville, Eddie Gamboa, Michael Kelly, and David Holmberg were signed.  It simply was not the onslaught of starting talent that they worked through in 2012.

And so the club is in this position now.  They let numerous pitchers go in the offseason.  Last fall, I suggested the club secure pitchers such as Ryan Carpenter, David Hurlbut, and Drew Hutchison.  None of them look particularly interesting, but they would add more fodder for the canons.  You could add Scott Barlow to that list.  And, really, there were fringe starters beyond those who would be of interest.  The Orioles largely sat on their hands and now they are forced to trot guys out to the mound who should not be there.  And so the club repeats the situation they found themselves in last year.

Below are the current crop of Norfolk starters and percentile projections of ERA.

Asher Wojciechowski
Projected ERA
10th 25th 50th 75th 90th
7.15 6.52 5.77 5.08 4.46
Norfolk
IP K BB ERA
6.2 4 5 6.75


David Hess
Projected ERA
10th 25th 50th 75th 90th
7.68 6.96 6.29 5.57 4.99
Norfolk
IP K BB ERA
5 7 0 1.8

Tim Melville
Projected ERA
10th 25th 50th 75th 90th
7.26 6.55 5.81 4.99 4.42
Norfolk
IP K BB ERA
4 6 3 4.5


Jayson Aquino
Projected ERA
10th 25th 50th 75th 90th
6.57 5.91 5.35 4.73 4.19
Norfolk
IP K BB ERA
9 4 5 6

Yefry Ramirez
Projected ERA
10th 25th 50th 75th 90th
8.61 8.02 7.07 6.21 5.5
Norfolk
IP K BB ERA
8.2 7 4 2.08

Jimmy Yacabonis
Projected ERA
10th 25th 50th 75th 90th
7.87 6.89 6.12 5.33 4.78
Norfolk
IP K BB ERA
5 4 3 7.2

3 comments:

Michael Sheckells said...

In fairness - Bundy, Cash, Gausmen have been impressive.

Cobb should improve as well.

Tillman is finished as a professional, Wright is a AAAA player same with Ynoa.

The question is, is the fifth starter somewhere on Norfolk or Bowie now? I wouldnt mind them experimenting with Hess, Ramirez (save harvey until later).

Right now whats more concerning are the bats, Chris Davis looks like a victim of trench warfare and outside of Mancini everyone else is scuffling.

I don't hold any dreams about a wildcard run but this team should have more than 5 wins at this point.

Jon Shepherd said...

You might want to check with Gausman again.

Cashner' peripherals look poor.

Bundy looks good.

CBreezyThreezy said...

Yea, not sure I would use the word "impressive" for anyone but Bundy, currently.