Baltimore Orioles: Getting Outpitched Leads to Losses


May 5, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Bud Norris (25) pitches against the New York Mets during the first inning of a their inter league baseball game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The title is a no-brainer; I admit that. It is difficult to win games when you are outpitched – not impossible, but not likely at a high percentage. Ultimately, pitching prevails in the game of baseball.

And over two evenings against the New York Mets, the Baltimore Orioles were simply outpitched. Bartolo Colon on Tuesday night was about as sharp as anyone I have seen in a long time. And Jacob deGrom was nearly as effective last evening. The O’s starting pitchers – Bud Norris and Ubaldo Jimenez – were not bad, they simply were not as good as the Mets. Since they were outpitched, the inverse was true as well – the Orioles were outhit.

Actually, the Orioles put together 16 hits to the Mets’ 14 hits over the two games, but the Mets were able to get the more critical hits when needed. And they made the most of the few free passes they received while giving up none.

I say that they gave up none. In fact, the Mets only allowed one walk over the two games – to Adam Jones. With runners on first and third with two outs in the fifth inning, deGrom essentially walked Jones intentionally by pitching around him. There was no fear of Chris Davis on deck. Twice before, deGrom had struck him out, and he made it 3-for-3.

The Orioles pitchers just don’t, or can’t, pound the strike zone like the Mets displayed the past two evenings. The Mets are #1 in baseball by establishing strike one on the first pitch, whereas the Orioles rank #29 in the same category. Comparing pitching stats, it is plain to see why the Mets are now 18-10, while the Orioles have fallen to 12-13.

Here are five primary pitching categories and the MLB ranking of the Orioles and Mets in each …

ERA4.28 = #222.97 = #3
BAA.229 = #6.238 = #11
OBP.311 = #15.280 = #3
BB/93.7 = #281.9 = #1
K/BB2.00 = #254.08 = #2

It is rather surprising to see the one area where the O’s were slightly better – batting average against. But again, if a pitcher cannot prevent putting extra runners on base and then not command his pitches in critical situations, the fallout will show up in other categories like ERA and total runs allowed. And it is also immediately seen in the chart above, where the Orioles have an 82-point difference between the BAA and OBP, whereas the Mets is a mere 42 points. The difference is walks allowed – illustrated by the final two lines of walks-per-nine innings and the strikeout-to-walk ratio.

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On an additional but related note, one of the best baseball articles I have read in a long time was a piece yesterday in FanGraphs about Bartolo Colon. Using the game with the Orioles, the writer illustrates Colon’s effectiveness with multiple video clips to talk about the two different fastballs that he uses. The movement that Colon is getting on these pitches is pretty amazing. Here is a sample summary quote from the article…

"Another thing you wonder about Colon is whether he should be something of a role model for younger pitchers. Young guys always talk about establishing the fastball, but none of them establish it like Colon does. None of them command it like Colon does. Or should I say, none of them command two of them like Colon does. And as Colon demonstrates, if you’ve got a couple fastballs, you don’t need a whole lot more."

The purpose today is not to trash Orioles pitching, but to rather just simply make some analytical notes about why good pitching is so important and how it works out in even a two-game set. The Birds’ pitchers are clearly improving after their very poor season start.

It is too early to totally panic about the season, but the Orioles really do need to get a couple of wins in New York against the Yankees. The O’s were 6-4 at Yankee Stadium last year on the way to a 13-6 total record against the Evil Empire.

Next: Is Chris Davis Playing Well Enough?