The Baltimore Orioles’ pitching has done very well recently, and it begs the question: do the Orioles have an ace?
Chris Tillman was the media-named ace without hesitation at the beginning of the season, but he has not lived up to such a name.
He leads the team in innings pitched with 143. He has an 8-5 record with a 3.78 ERA. Tillman has allowed the most walks on the team next to Ubaldo Jimenez.
Tillman has not been the best pitcher, but he has also had his good starts. However, there is nothing in his pitching arsenal that defines him as an ace. He has no regular consistency.
Despite an excellent 2.78 ERA, Tillman has a 2-5 record at home. A true ace defends his home field.
You could argue that the Orioles’ less than stellar offense at home is the reason for the poor record, which is certainly a reason. The offense gives Tillman 2.78 runs on average per start at home.
There is one common trait between the pitchers whether they receive four runs per game at home or less than four. They are able to pitch with the offense to help the team win games.
Tillman has a 6-0 record on the road with a 4.68 ERA, but he receives over five runs per start away from Baltimore.
Tillman is a pitcher who pitches quite well with run support, but if the run support goes away, he suffers. A true ace does not suffer in this situation, and I think it is clear by now, Tillman is not the Orioles’ ace.
Unless he drastically changes the way he pitches, Tillman does not have the ability to be an ace. However, he will have his good starts and his bad ones.
Wei-Yin Chen is another story. He was never expected to be an ace.
He is having a fantastic year with a 12-4 record and 3.90 ERA, with 90+ strikeouts and less than 25 walks on the season.
Chen has a 6-2 record at home with a 3.65 ERA and receives 4.50 runs per home start.
His record reflects the high run support, which allows him to retain a higher ERA and still win 12 games. In 10 road starts, he receives over six runs per game, which he used to produce a 6-2 record with a 4.23 ERA.
Chen may have an impressive record, but he pitches much like Tillman. When he receives offense, he wins.
In Chen’s four losses, the Orioles’ offense scored a mere nine runs.
This can very much be true of any pitcher, but when it comes to an ace, the offense’s runs do not matter. On the top end of the spectrum, Clayton Kershaw can win games when his team only scores three runs.
He pitches very well, as he is a proven ace, with a low ERA that could set records this season.
As of this season, I would define an ace as Kershaw. Clearly, when in comparison to him, neither Chen nor Tillman match up well as an ace.
Though it may not be the ideal answer for some people, I have to hold to the stance that the Orioles do not have an ace.
Despite the demand for Tillman to be the Orioles’ ace and Chen’s excellent stats, I cannot bring myself to proclaim an Orioles’ pitcher the ace of the staff. As you will see below, I would not even put Tillman as the Orioles’ second best starter.
The Orioles have good and bad pitchers, but none of them excels enough to be titled an ace.
But I can rank the Orioles’ starters:
- Wei-Yin Chen (3.90 ERA)
- Bud Norris (3.68 ERA)
- Chris Tillman (3.78 ERA)
- Kevin Gausman (3.77 ERA)
- Miguel Gonzalez (3.93 ERA)
- Ubaldo Jimenez (4.52 ERA)
Do not mistake this list as Chen being the ace; while I do believe he is the best starter for the Orioles, I do not believe him to be the ace of the staff.
Some people think there is one ace per rotation, but I believe aces are not that common. The Orioles just happen to be a team without an ace.