Mar 10, 2015; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcherWei-Yin Chen
(16) pitches during the first inning of a spring training game against the New York Yankees atEd Smith
Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Tillman – Without doubt, Tillman has become the leading pitcher of the Orioles rotation since becoming a regular starter during the 2012 season. After some April and May troubles in 2014 with early innings in games, Tillman became a model of consistency, with the O’s winning 24 of the 34 games he started. We featured him in an article here on The Baltimore Wire just two days ago.
I do not see any reason for Chris Tillman to not continue with his consistent top-of-the-rotation performance. He lives on the corners with his pitches and is a continual learner. Look for him to improve and ratchet up his game one more click. Let’s say he’ll have some better W/L success at 16-7 with an ERA in the vicinity of 3.25 and WHIP under 1.200. He will have a shot at the All-Star team, depending upon how many pitchers will be taken as necessary representatives from other teams.
Wei-Yin Chen – Now in his third year with the Orioles, he looks ready to go and will have his best season in his final year in Baltimore. He had a lot of good fortune and run support that contributed to his 16-6 record in 2014. Chen was good, but the record was a bit better than the 3.54 ERA and 1.228 WHIP deserved.
Chen has been learning and growing in success in his years in Baltimore. I will predict him to have about a 15-9 record with a 3.40 ERA while throwing almost 200 innings. If all goes really well, he has the possibility of blowing well past these numbers.
Miguel Gonzalez – What is not to like about Gonzalez? This is such a great success story given where he came from just three years ago. He actually had the best ERA of the starters last year, but only had a 10-9 record to show for it.
Gonzalez had a serious offseason workout regimen this past winter with Brady Anderson in California. This has paid off for others in the past and I will predict that Miguel has his best season of his career in 2015. I look for him to continue with an ERA in the 3.20 to 3.30 range, while also adding more innings pitched. He posted 159 last year, and I will put him down for 180+ this year, along with 15 or more wins.
Bud Norris – It was a career year for Norris in 2014 with a 15-8 record and 3.65 ERA. Almost every statistic was the best he ever did. And those numbers will remain that way and not be surpassed. Even apart from the very poor spring training that Norris has had, it would be difficult to expect him to repeat 2014, given his historic performance with nothing quite like it prior to last year.
There is probably no player on the O’s that I personally respect more than Norris for the way he plays the game. I love the competitor. He led the staff in hitting people with pitches – did it 14 times! In fact, that was a three-way tie for the AL lead with R.A. Dickey and Jeremy Guthrie. However, those guys each pitched over 200 innings whereas Norris threw only 165. But I love it; he owns the inside corner.
Having sung those praises, I predict a step back for Norris in 2015. It will not be a disaster. I’m looking for something around a 4.00 ERA and a .500 record.
Ubaldo Jimenez – If I could have everything I wrote about Jimenez’ 2014 season printed out of paper, I could have heated my house at least through Groundhog’s Day by burning it in my woodstove over the winter. So, I don’t want to rehearse it again or talk much more about “moving parts.” Let’s skip the numbers.
But frankly, it is impossible to not talk about the “moving parts.” Positively, they make him difficult to hit; even last year his batting average against was almost the best of the starters. It is the walks that kill him.
The storyline is that the moving parts have been filed down and compacted … if that is even really possible. So I believe we will see over the season what we saw in spring training – a series of very bad starts followed by a series of very good starts. This is his (and our) future over the next three years. There will be feast and famine. I’ll predict 12-10 with a 4.05 ERA.
Kevin Gausman – I am working on the assumption that Gausman is not going to be a part of the early April rotation. All of the first five predictions assume full seasons for those players. It could happen. It sorta happened last year, but that is rare.
Gausman will get some starts and he will throw a lot of innings for the Orioles – more than the two previous years. Perhaps he’ll especially follow Ubaldo to the mound on the occasions when he stinks up the joint. The Orioles have to use Kevin and build his innings in preparation for being a featured part of the 2016 (and beyond) rotation. Gausman threw 121 big-league innings last year and another 45 in the minors. There is no way he’ll throw less than that again this year.
It is impossible to predict a record for the young man. But let’s posit that he lowers his 4.19 ERA from 2014 to the 3.80 to 3.85 range for innings pitched in 2015. It could be even lower if a high percentage of those innings are out of the bullpen.
Next: Will the bullpen be as good as in 2014?