Bronson Arroyo, A.J. Burnett, Jim Johnson, and Baltimore Orioles Pitching Challenges

Aug 21, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (left) takes the ball from pitcher Brian Matusz (17) in the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles defeated the Rays 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles are reported to be interested in the possibility of free agent starters Bronson Arroyo and A.J. Burnett (at the right price), while others such as Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez are not on the radar. Jimenez is simply not that interesting from a statistics and cost point of view, and there is simply not much chance of a Santana or Garza deal.

So let’s take a look at Arroyo and Burnett. Each is very interesting and would seem to be a great fit to round out the expected rotation for 2014.

It was previously explored here on The Baltimore Wire that Burnett, even at age 36, has much to offer. Though his three-year stint in New York with the Yankees did not go exceedingly well, his most recent two years in Pittsburgh have been quite solid. With a career record of 147-132 and 3.99 ERA, if nothing else, he is a guy who can eat up the innings. Beyond that, he lives in Monkton, MD just north of Baltimore. And as I also pointed out in that article, Burnett had a better ERA than Chris Tillman and gave up one-third as many home runs.

Bronson Arroyo is also an intriguing possibility. Though he will be age 37 in February, his statistics are those of a younger guy. Having pitched the past eight years for the Cincinnati Reds, his low number of innings over that time was 199!  He has thrown 202 each of the past two seasons, and he only walks a batter about once every six innings – gotta like that. His stats are quite similar as Tillman, with one-half the number of walks.

So, make note of the Arroyo and Burnett stats from 2013 as compared to Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and Bud Norris. They make a strong argument for the value of getting one of these guys.

Name

Age

W

L

ERA

G

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

WHIP

H/9

HR/9

BB/9

SO/9

SO/BB

Arroyo

36

14

12

3.79

32

202.0

199

88

85

32

34

124

1.153

8.9

1.4

1.5

5.5

3.65

Burnett

36

10

11

3.30

30

191.0

165

79

70

11

67

209

1.215

7.8

0.5

3.2

9.8

3.12

Tillman

25

16

7

3.71

33

206.1

184

87

85

33

68

179

1.221

8.0

1.4

3.0

7.8

2.63

Chen

27

7

7

4.07

23

137.0

142

62

62

17

39

104

1.321

9.3

1.1

2.6

6.8

2.67

Gonzalez

29

11

8

3.78

30

171.1

157

81

72

24

53

120

1.226

8.2

1.3

2.8

6.3

2.26

Norris

28

10

12

4.18

32

176.2

196

89

82

17

67

147

1.489

10.0

0.9

3.4

7.5

2.19

 

Additional Jim Johnson Thoughts

A lot of Orioles fans continue to grieve the loss of Jim Johnson, and I understand that. Yet at the same time, the past year had some very difficult moments for the O’s closer. Again, my issue is with the “closer” strategy that throws a designated person into a role, whether he is the best match-up for that inning or not. Too often, Jim Johnson could not have possibly been the best choice.

Johnson’s batting average against in July was .315, and in August .359.  For the year, leadoff hitters in an inning batted .318 against him – helping to explain why it became Gary Thorne’s call at the end of the 8th inning to say, “Put your tray in the upright position and fasten your seatbelts.”

With none out and one out, the average against Johnson was .293, and with runners in scoring position it was .295.

The Tampa Bay Rays hit .445 against Johnson.

Yes, statistics can be cherry-picked to make many pitchers look bad; but there is no denying the realities of these numbers and the blown saves and losses that so damaged playoff possibilities. And yes, a closer is in the spotlight in a way that others are not.

But at the end of the day, at the end of the season … it is not surprising that at an estimated 10+ million dollars, he is no longer with the Orioles. Those are not 10 million dollar numbers.

Topics: A.J. Burnett, Baltimore Orioles, Bronson Arroyo

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