Baltimore Orioles: As 2017 Slips Away, an Early Look at 2018 Pitching

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 24: Dylan Bundy
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 24: Dylan Bundy /
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The Baltimore Orioles offense has fallen flat, and now it is worth wondering if their playoff hopes have any steam left.

As the 2017 Baltimore Orioles schedule dwindles, the Orioles are not doing what they need to do to clinch a playoff berth in the AL Wild Card standings. They aren’t winning games.

They remain competitive in games, and the pitching is pretty stable right now while the offense is not. Next week, the pitching might be struggling and the offense hot again.

The Orioles are more than 11.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings, so that’s out with only 17 games left. The Birds are currently 7.5 games back from the first Wild Card, now held by the New York Yankees. The chance of making that up isn’t good, even with a four-game series against the Yankees coming up.

Not only these items, but there are five teams ahead of the O’s in the AL Wild Card standings and sit in fourth place in the division. A lot of competition and the Orioles’ remaining schedule is one of the toughest, although most of that is due to playing other AL East teams.

So, with the lights on the 2017 season flickering, I want to get an early look at the most important part of the 2018 team.

The starting rotation. The same part that has arguably been most relevant for each of the past several seasons. Here are four things to watch for the 2018 Orioles starting rotation.

4. Returning Orioles Starters and Possible Starters

The Baltimore Orioles return two starting pitchers who they have used in that capacity all season, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. It is safe to assume they will be number 1 and 2 in the rotation.

Bundy will be coming off 2017 where he worked to establish himself as a central piece for the Orioles. He isn’t quite an ace, but he has moved toward that, especially if he can get rid of the poor outings.

Gausman has been inconsistent for the Orioles and will need to start to be effective for an entire season.

More from Baltimore Orioles

Wade Miley has a team option for 12 million dollars. That’s not getting picked up.

Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Tillman and Jeremy Hellickson are all free agents.

Alec Asher will also be under team control, as will Vidal Nuno, Tyler Wilson, Mike Wright, Jayson Aquino (if he clears waivers), Logan Verrett, Gabriel Ynoa, and Miguel Castro.

Most people believe Castro will be prepared to start. Ynoa also may be. Those two could conceivably be starters in 2018, although their effectiveness may be another story.

Who else is out there? Free agent starting pitchers in 2018 include names like Jake Arrieta, Jason Vargas, Jhoulys Chacin, and Lance Lynn among others. The complete list of MLB free agent starting pitchers can be found via spotrac

There are certainly some good names on that list. Also, some not so good. So, let’s split them into categories.