Baltimore Orioles rotation quietly emerging as a prepared group

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 29: Dylan Bundy
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 29: Dylan Bundy /

The Baltimore Orioles have won a season-high seven straight games and as they maintain their rise in both the AL Wild Card and AL East standings.

The Baltimore Orioles have had issues with their starting rotation for years. However, there is a chance that things may be turning around, at least at the top.

I have a twin brother who is a Phillies fan, but he knows a lot of Orioles fans, including myself. Every year, he chides me that the Orioles don’t have a number one starter.

Chris Tillman is an ace, I used to argue. And, until he got hurt last year, it was a decent argument. But, if he was to go up against Chris Sale, David Price, Corey Kluber, Dallas Keuchel or Cole Hamels, he wouldn’t be favored.

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This year, I got the same statement, even when the Orioles were 22-10 and Dylan Bundy looked, like, well what Orioles fans have always hoped Bundy would look like.

A few weeks later, those text messages were coming. Still, think Bundy is a one? Is Gausman ever going to be consistent? Miley and Jimenez are awful.

Not much of a comeback, although I do like to thank him for Alec Asher.

Now, I want to start out with a caveat here. An Orioles ace is never going to have the numbers of a Chris Sale or a Corey Kluber. Why is that? Because they pitch in the band box that is Camden Yards.

It just is not an easy place to pitch. That doesn’t make them bad pitchers.

Is Dylan Bundy a top of the line ace? He looked like it on Tuesday night. Bundy twirled a one-hit, bunt single complete game shut out against the Seattle Mariners.

The Mariners have two of the best hitters of this generation in Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano. They have a line up that features speed and power.

Bundy struck out 12 with just as much command of his offspeed stuff as he did overpowering hitters. It was a great outing.

Is Kevin Gausman an ace? Probably not, he isn’t consistent enough. Can he be a good number two pitcher? I don’t see why not.

In the second half of the season, Gausman is 5-2 in nine starts, with a 3.46 ERA and a WHIP of 1.28. Some of the other statistics are still a little high, but he has had a few ugly outings still in the second half.

Gausman clearly has the pitches and the ability to be a good starting pitcher. Whether he can do it consistently will determine if he can be a great starting pitcher.

Now, the rest of the rotation, of course, is up in the air after 2017. But, with this recent streak, there is no reason to look to 2018, as there is still a lot of 2017, and possibly a playoff run in the works.

And that’s where you ask questions.

Who would be the third starter? Would you go with Chris Tillman, who has looked better recently but has had a major issue with walks and home runs in 2017?

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Or maybe Wade Miley, who also has a major issue with walks, but has been kind of wildly effective again recently, just like he was at the beginning of the year.

Jeremy Hellickson is experienced, but he is near the top of baseball in home runs allowed and has sprinkled good games and some stinkers since being acquired.

That, of course, leaves Ubaldo Jimenez. Ubaldo was magnificent down the stretch in 2016, only to be put in the bullpen and allow the game-winning home run in the Wild Card game.

Jimenez has not been as good down the stretch this year, but he still holds the possibility of turning an ace-like outing. He has that potential.

The Orioles rotation features two starters who have top of the rotation potential. Then, there are four veterans who at any time could pull a great performance or a terrible one.

If the Orioles make the playoffs, the best solution may be that if Tillman, Miley, Hellickson or Jimenez is on the mound, someone else is warming up, just in case. Especially in the first inning, because with these guys, usually, the problems come early.

Of course, the team has to get to the playoffs first. This group of experienced, veteran starters will need to support the talents of their younger counterparts to get them there.

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Over the recent streak, so far, so good. But, there is a whole month to go, and games to make up.

Time for these guys to earn their next paycheck.