Before the 2017 Baltimore Orioles season, many people were aware that the rotation was a major question mark, and had the potential to be the weakness of the Orioles.
No one could have predicted how bad the Baltimore Orioles season has become.
The Baltimore Orioles had a chance to rebound after the All-Star break, with a few weeks to prove why the team should be considered contenders in 2017.
Instead, the team fell flat on its face in a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs, getting swept and largely being uncompetitive.
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The Orioles trailed 8-0 on Friday night thanks to a personal-high four home runs allowed by Kevin Gausman.
Now, the Birds did make a game of it, getting a solo home run by Welington Castillo to start the scoring, followed by runs off the Cubs’ bullpen to make it an 8-6 game entering the eighth inning.
It would be short-lived.
The Orioles against got a run on a home run by a catcher, this time from Caleb Joseph, who is slowly getting more playing time as he continues to hit.
It was nowhere near enough, as the Orioles lost 10-3.
Then came Sunday’s game. Ubaldo Jimenez was a hard-hit ball machine, leaving up four runs in the second inning and two more in the fourth to make it 6-0. He was booed off the field, replaced by Donnie Hart.
The starting pitching in the three game series covered 11 1/3 innings, allowing 22 runs over that period.
That’s not good.
The offense, save for Friday’s comeback, was also mostly non-competitive, which continues to be a problem.
The bullpen was somewhat of a bright spot. Brach’s solo home run allowed in the ninth on Friday was painful. Miguel Castro allowed two runs on Saturday, and Donnie Hart allowed an unearned run. O’Day allowed two on the home run on Sunday.
What can be done, you may be asking?
Not much, to be honest. Sure, the Orioles could play Hyun Soo Kim more, something fans continue to clamor for. They could bring up someone with more offense, like Chris Johnson and move Manny Machado to third base.
But these games aren’t largely the result of a few runs. The Orioles are getting blown out on a frequent basis.
The Orioles run differential is -94, which is the worst in the entire American League. The only teams with a worse run differential are the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants. Even the Philadelphia Phillies, the worst team in baseball, have a better run differential than the Orioles, although only by one run.
And about the pitching? Gausman deserves to be demoted. I know it, you know it. But, as Dan Connolly discusses, what does that accomplish? Who replaces him?
A player from Triple-A Norfolk? Who would that be?
The Tides have six players who have started at least 10 games.
No one worth starting there. Could you plug Wright in when he comes off the disabled list? Yes.
Could you stretch out Richard Bleier and Miguel Castro and make them starters? Yes, you could, but you likely would have to send them down to stretch them out, and Bleier has done a good job in the bullpen.
The Baltimore Orioles’ pitching is beyond the point of being labeled a dumpster fire, or anything comical.
It is now at a point of being historically bad.
Also reported by Connolly, the rotation ERA of over six would break the team record for worst ERA in a season. The previous record was held by the 2008 Orioles, which featured Jeremy Guthrie, Daniel Cabrera, Garrett Olson, Radhames Liz, Brian Burres and Chris Waters.
Yes, we just invoked the dark years. Guthrie had an ERA of 3.63, and the next best ERA was over five earned runs. Olson, Burres and Liz all had ERAs over six.
So, what can be done?
Well, either pitch out the string and hope for significant improvements in 2018.
Or, take advantage of the bullpen pieces which can be traded and work to acquire rotational pieces that can compete for 2018 roster spots.
The Orioles have proven they are a team that is not contending.
Now, it is a matter of whether it is one year of being out of contention or a much longer period.