Checking on the starting pitching

Let’s not kid ourselves right out of the gate. The Baltimore Orioles are probably not going to sign any starting pitchers for longer than a year or two. The organization has some good arms developing in the minors. A few names to mention are Zac Lowther, Alex Wells, Keegan Akin and Cody Sedlock. With each expected to hit the majors within the next few seasons, offering a starter a three-year deal seems foolish. However, it wouldn’t be insane to bring in a proven arm to bolster a rotation that’s struggled in recent years.

The Orioles are listed to feature Dylan Bundy, Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, David Hess and Josh Rogers in their rotation. Keep in mind, others like Jimmy Yacabonis and Miguel Castro, will probably battle for a spot in Spring Training. Through 108 starts and 436 innings last season, the projected starters tallied an ERA of 7.06. Factoring in all starters last season, the collective group finished the year with an ERA of 5.49. That’s improved slightly over their 5.70 from 2017. Although the team is rebuilding, pitching coach Doug Brocail probably doesn’t want his first season to feature the worst starting rotation in the league.

Ownership should, at the very least, consider the free agent market for one starting pitcher. The average MLB service time for the expected group of starters is 3.673. That’s counting Cobb’s seven seasons and Cashner’s eight. While the rookie arms mentioned above develop further on the farm, a no-more than two-year deal with the right starter should be entertained.

Available starters on the market

Dallas Keuchel is still out there, and he’s your ace if signed. However, the only way the Orioles are signing him is if you’re playing with them on MLB: The Show ’19. Bartolo Colon is a free agent too, but I think signing him is along those same video game lines. So, who should the Orioles look at if they’re going to pluck someone from free agency?

Marco Estrada is a name that could be toyed with. Having spent the last four seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, he’s coming off his worst season as a starter. The former All-Star in 2016 logged 143.2 innings last season in 28 starts. He finished the season with a 5.64 ERA and a 1.427 WHIP. After dealing with hip discomfort in July, Estrada’s final 11 starts saw him give up 14 home runs, while pitching to a 7.17 ERA. If he can return to his 2016 form, he’d be a welcomed signing.

What about Drew Pomeranz? The southpaw from the University of Mississippi was removed from the Boston Red Sox rotation after 11 starts last season. He allowed 36 earned runs in 51.1 innings and opposing batters hit .299 against him. In 2017 though, Pomeranz won 17 games and he too was an All-Star in 2016. Could he possibly find the form that once made him so valuable?

A reunion with a former Orioles starter is what everybody’s searching for, right? Well, there’s five of them to choose from. Are either of them worth another opportunity?

Chris Tillman? No. Yovani Gallardo? Nope. But, Wade Miley? I’d entertain that thought.

In 43 starts with the Orioles, he pitched to a 5.75 ERA – the worst for any team he’s been with. However, in 16 starts last season with the Milwaukee Brewers, Miley notched a 2.57 ERA. Six of his starts were of the quality type and, he didn’t allow more than three earned runs in any of his outings during the regular season. He also tossed 14.2 innings in the postseason, giving up just two earned runs.

To clarify, I’m not saying the Orioles will improve by signing either of the three starters mentioned in bold. We all should know it’s more than that. However, it’s fun to play around with the idea that improving the analytical department could equate to success with any of them.

Here’s the full list of available starting pitchers. Are you comfortable with the arms slated to begin the season. Or, would you rather see someone signed?

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Brian Pinter

Brian Pinter is the Director of Coverage on the Baltimore Orioles for Maryland Sports Blog. His views and opinions are that of his own and he welcomes any and all discussions. Follow along with Brian Pinter this season on Twitter, @b_pinter23.

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