28 September 2018

Cavalry Is Here, But They Are a Little Irregular

The Orioles have had a few calls for the cavalry.  The first utterance was under the Andy MacPhail regime and it spoke of talents like Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Radhames Liz, Jake Arrieta, Brandon Erbe, Troy Patton and those are just the arms that appeared on Baseball America's top 100 lists.  The idea behind it all was about buying bats and not spending a great amount of money on pitching, to simply grow the arms.  It did not work.  Of those starters, the Orioles only saw starting pitching success with Tillman.  The others failed to provide the club with what the club was anticipating.  The cavalry was called, it showed up, and they mainly rode donkeys.

A softer bugle was called a few years later as Kevin Gausman was cutting his teeth and experiencing flashes of extreme success.  High upside arms appeared in the form of Dylan Bundy, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Hunter Harvey.  Gausman could never sustain his highs, but was solid rotation arm before being dealt to the Braves this past deadline.  Bundy, after experiencing injury woes, looks like a top shelf pitcher when his fastball sits in the mid 90s and then a shell of himself if it dips below that.  It has dipped often below that.  Harvey no longer looks like a starting pitcher and some question whether he can stay healthy enough to experience long term success in any role in the majors.  And, of course, Eduardo Rodriguez was traded off to help the Orioles better manage their bullpen in the 2014 playoffs, a short term benefit with long term consequences.  The deadening of the starting rotation these past three years has been a product of this cavalry not being able to beef up the rotation (though not as unspectacularly as the previous incarnation of the cavalry).

However, past drafts and a few deadline trades rejuvenated the minors with arms.  So much so, that the club probably has some concerns about how exactly to get those arms the right number of innings against the right kind of competition.  The only certainty the Orioles face is their top three slot in their rotation.  Dylan Bundy, who again fatigued along the way with terrible effect, will be top arm in the rotation.  Andrew Cashner, who did his secret Wade Miley impersonation in eating innings while getting roughed up, is the second sure feature of the rotation.  Alex Cobb, who habitually is unable to complete 30 starts a year, rounds out the top three.

Behind those guys is a bit of a free-for-all.  The Orioles might seek stability or upside and go after a free agent starter this off-season.  However, the more arms you sign to be in the rotation, the more you depend on injuries to give the younger arms a chance to showcase their talents on the MLB stage.  At the moment, the competition for the last two slots appears to be one between Yefry Ramirez and David Hess against Josh Rogers, John Means, and perhaps Keegan Akin.  One also figures that Luis Ortiz, Dillon Tate, Jimmy Yacabonis, and Hunter Harvey might also get a shot.

Whoever shakes free from that group would fill out Norfolk.  If you assume that Hess and Ramirez start in Baltimore, then you probably have Ortiz, Akin, Rogers, Means, and Dean Kremer in Norfolk.  Again, you have some other arms up in the air like Yacabonis, Harvey, Gabriel Ynoa, and Jordan Kipper.  Bowie likely fills out with Tate, Michael Baumann, Bruce Zimmerman, Brian Gonzalez, and Cristian Alvarado.  Lucas Humpal and Ofelky Peralta should also get a mention here.

Down to Frederick, Brenan Hanifee, Luis Perez, Cody Sedlock, Jhon Peluffo, and D.L. Hall look slated to compete there.  Matthias Dietz may be finding himself in the pen.  Delmarva may bring out Grayson Rodriguez, Blaine Knight, Hector Guance, Jake Zebron, and maybe Jimmy Murphy.  Really, you can get down to Delmarva and really not see any obvious holes opening up to bring in veteran pitching.  This is a problem that the club has not had to deal with in a while.

It should also be noted that while there is a cavalry, a deep cavalry.  It does not speak to the quality of those arms.  As you go through the system, you find a lot of fringey talent.  You can imagine arms like Ortiz, Tate, Harvey, and Akin to make meaningful contributions in the Majors.  You might even be able to imagine Kremer, Baumann, Zimmerman, and Hanifee to swoop in as well.  But, really, Grayson Rodriguez is the lone arm that is truly seen as special.  He has a couple years to go before he can see Baltimore if he advances quickly.

So, all in all, the depth is there for Baltimore.  It is depth that they have not seen since the late 2000s.  It is a collection of pitchers whose profile is not as well considered compared to those cavalry classes a decade ago though.  This cavalry is a bit irregular.  But, the hope is there that perhaps a few of them will emerge and beat the odds.  If they do, then the Orioles rebuild will be quicker than anticipated.


Unknown said...

I have a burning question: Why is it that an organization like Tampa Bay can continuously churn out top of the rotation starters, some of which seemingly come from nowhere, but a team like the Orioles can't even muster consistency out of top end prospects?

Yes, injuries play a role and luck, but what is it exactly? What is it about the Rays organizational structure that allows their talented pitchers to excel time after time, while the O's talented pitcher prospects continue to fail?

This is hands down the most frustrating aspect of the Orioles and I've never received a decent answer to this.

Unknown said...

Brady Andersen

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Most promising starting prospects: Grayrod (sounds like a viagra bit); dl hall; akin; lowther; hanifee; Tate;Kremer; knight; bishop (95mph lefty); Rom

Unknown said...

Hopeful yet less promising starting prospects: Ortiz (bad hammy on a whale); hunter (no explanation needed); Wells; everyone else is just fodder.

wicker said...

No lowther or Wells?