Orioles Offseason Needs: Pitching, Pitching, and More Pitching
After a disappointing season, the Baltimore Orioles have seemingly have moved back to square one after an impressive six-year run. Now it is time to focus on the team’s youth and finally strengthen their rotation. Since 2012, the Orioles have only cracked the top ten once in terms of team ERA; in 2014 with a 3.43 ERA. Besides that one season, the O’s tend to hover around the bottom of the league. This past season was no different, as the O’s sported a 4.97 team ERA and I think we know why. Dylan Bundy had a 4.24 ERA, which was the lowest ERA out of all of the Orioles starters. Let that sink in. You will not have any success in this league with that sort of production from your starters. There might be a bright spot though. Ubaldo, Tillman, Miley, and Hellickson are all off of the books and they were the worst of the worst when it came to the Orioles rotation. Rumors definitely will be flying around the Orioles and starting pitchers during the offseason, but here are some realistic, dream, and dark-horse scenarios for the O’s.
Realistic: Jason Vargas, and Chris Tillman
Yes, Chris Tillman. He had a miserable 2017 season, but I think we can attribute that to injury. We have seen ace type stuff from Tillman in the past, and with an entire offseason to get back to full health. Signing Tillman to a one year possibly two year deal with an option would be a high upside deal for the O’s and Tillman. Think about this also, the pressure to be an ace is off of Tillman next year. With Bundy’s emergence and we can expect Gausman to take the next step, Tillman will be seen as a number four starter in the O’s rotation. Along with the signing of Tillman, Jason Vargas would be an ideal signing for the O’s. Last season for Vargas was a mixture of ups and downs. He went 18-11 with a 4.16 ERA, Oriole fans should be in awe of that. We desperately are in need of a left-handed starter, and some leadership in the rotation. Vargas was a part of the 2015 World Series champion Royals team, he knows what it is like to be in a constant winning culture and can help mentor our young starters.
Dream: Jake Arrieta
In what looked to be a great trade for the Orioles at the time, the Jake Arrieta trade has turned into the worst trade in Orioles history. The O’s in 2013, sent “bust” Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop to the Cubs for (at the time) highly coveted Scott Feldman and Mount Saint Joseph high school product Steve Clevenger. The rest is history, Arrieta turned into a Cy Young winner, Feldman went 5-6 with a 4.27 ERA then left for Houston to get a lucrative deal. The saving grace of this trade was, in fact, Steve Clevenger. Even though his field time was limited, we traded him for Mark Trumbo. Back to Arrieta, he has finally turned into the pitcher every O’s fan had hoped for, but unfortunately it was not with us. It would take a ton of persuasion for Arrieta to want to come back to Baltimore, but if Duquette really believes we have a playoff caliber team, signing Arrieta would send a huge message throughout the AL East.
Dark-Horse: Andrew Cashner
I feel like Andrew Cashner to the Orioles has been a constant rumor for the last five seasons, but obviously, nothing has come of it. After back to back rough seasons in San Diego, Cashner was able to recapture his old form in Texas last season. He finished the season with an 11-11 record and a 3.40 ERA. What this tells me about Cashner is that he kept his teams in the ballgame, but Texas was just unable to provide for him. In order for any Oriole starter to have any type of success, you must keep the team in the game. The O’s have the type of offense that can explode at any point and a one to three run deficit can be erased at any point with our homerun or bust offense. Cashner is a definite work-horse, his desire to compete every fifth day would resonate throughout the Orioles locker room. Cashner is a definite sleeper in this free agent market, and if the O’s are able to sign him I would be very excited.