The Baltimore Orioles have had a plethora of issues in 2018, but their hope that their pitching would be better has not come to fruition.
The Baltimore Orioles wanted 2018 to be different. They wanted better pitching.
After having a dismal year in 2017, the team thought bringing back their typically stout bullpen and adding starting pitchers, along with more seasoning for other pitchers would help them improve a major weakness. It hasn’t happened.
The Orioles have the third-worst earned run average (ERA) in baseball (and the American League) at 4.92. Their starting ERA is 5.33, which is the worst in the game. Their bullpen ERA is a more acceptable 4.32, 21st in baseball.
The problem is, many of the pieces who helped the bullpen to that mediocre ranking are gone.
Of people over 10 innings, Richard Bleier has the lowest ERA on the team at 1.93. He, of course, is done for the year.
Paul Fry, who has done a good job for the Orioles, is next at 3.06 ERA in 17.2 innings.
After Donnie Hart, you get to the relievers who are over the team’s bullpen ERA of 4.32. Mychal Givens has had a disappointing season, including a 0-6 record. His ERA is 4.63. He is followed by Brad Brach at 4.85 (gone) and Mike Wright Jr. at 4.91.
Wright Jr., Bleier and Britton are the only Orioles pitchers with winning records.
The pitcher who originally was my impetus for this article can be found hovering around an ERA of 6.
Tanner Scott. The hard-throwing lefty who many fans and those in the organization had high hopes for. His first real experience in the majors has not been pleasant.
Scott has a 5.97 ERA in 34.2 innings pitched, covering 34 games. He has allowed 39 hits and 17 walks, for a poor WHIP of 1.615.
The Orioles struggled with how to use Scott in the minors because he was wild and walked a lot of hitters. However, his swing-and-miss stuff allowed him to just throw the ball by many minor leaguers.
That doesn’t work in the major leagues, and that isn’t the issue for Scott.
There is a bit of good news here.
For a bit of perspective, I went and compared Scott to another hard-throwing reliever, Aroldis Chapman.
Chapman, in his first full season for Cincinnati, was a 23-year-old who went 4-1 with a 3.60 ERA in 54 games over 50 innings, with 24 hits allowed, 41 walks allowed, and 71 strikeouts. That is a WHIP of 1.300, 4.3 hits per nine innings, 0.4 home runs per nine innings, 7.4 walks per nine innings, 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings and 1.73 strikeouts to walk ratio.
Scott’s walks per nine innings (4.4), strikeouts per nine innings (13.2) and strikeout/walk ratio (3.0) are all better than Chapman’s.
The problem hasn’t been the walks allowed by Scott. It has been the hits.
That may fall to the fact that his other pitches are not where they need to be. Major league hitters can hit a fastball at 100 if that is the only pitch you can throw.
PitcherList has Scott’s fastball averaging around 98 miles per hour, and he throws it approximately 70 percent of the time. However, his fastball is not generating a lot of swings and misses, and batters have an OPS approaching 1.200 against it.
Scott’s other pitch is a slider, and he is doing a better job of getting swing and misses, with those up over 35 percent. In addition, batted balls against have been on the ground.
Moving forward, the main pieces of the Orioles’ bullpen will likely be Givens, Scott, Miguel Castro, Wright Jr., Cody Carroll, Evan Phillips and a number of minor leaguers who will hopefully be able to step up.
However, if Scott is not able to improve upon his rough rookie year, it would be a tough blow to the Orioles and another strike against them when it comes to pitcher development.