Baltimore Orioles Mediocre Rotation Not Reason Alone for Dismal Season

An analysis of ERA and WHIP for Baltimore Orioles primary starting pitchers reveals mediocrity but not an explanation for the team’s near-record losing.

When the Baltimore Orioles lead the league in futility this deep into the baseball season with a 36-84 record, an astounding gravity-bending ultra-low .300 percentage, there are probably a lot of factors contributing to the ongoing catastrophe.

For the Baltimore Orioles, we are going to seek answers by examining two starting pitching statistics, earned run average (ERA) and walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP). The chart below shows those stats for the Orioles four primary starting pitchers and also the American League averages.

Kevin Gausman’s stats are included because he started 21 games before being traded. Andrew Cashner has started 23 games, while Dylan Bundy and Alex Cobb have started 22 games each. That’s a combined 88 of the 120 games played, or 73 percent of the total.

From the table, it can be seen that Cashner, Bundy, and Gausman have ERAs ranging from 4.43 to 4.71, which puts them above the 4.23 American League average. Gausman is just slightly above the league average, while Cashner and Bundy are almost half a run above.

This pitching trio is not great, but not terrible either, and certainly not deserving of their collective 16-28 won-loss record.

For a pitcher to lose nearly two-thirds of his starts when his ERA is no worse than mediocre requires help, the likely culprits being weak hitting, an inexplicably inconsistent bullpen, and generally shaky defense.

By contrast, Cobb is working an elevated 5.31 ERA (down considerably from an early season over-6.00 figure), which is a partial contributor to his so-not-impressive and very disappointing 3-15 record. Bullpen problems, defensive snafus, and tepid offense are other factors that also have seriously depressed his win total.

In terms of WHIP, both Bundy and Gausman are right on top of the 1.31 league average, with WHIPs of 1.31 and 1.38, respectively. Their combined 12-18 record seems skewed too far toward the loss column for pitchers with those stats. Hence, this is more evidence that they, too, are being victimized by bullpen, defense, and offense (BDO) problems.

Cashner and Cobb, both with 1.49 WHIPs, are slightly above the league WHIP average, ranking them around number 100 out of the approximately 150 starting pitchers in the American League.

While we would expect both of them to have losing records, their combined 7-25 won-loss record seems too severe for pitchers with 1.5-ish WHIPs. Again, the notorious bullpen-defense-offense problems afflicting all Orioles’ starters is likely having an impact here as well.

What have we discovered? Based on ERA and WHIP, the Baltimore Orioles top four starters – Bundy, Cashner, Cobb, and (formerly) Gausman – are mostly mediocre but not terrible and only partly responsible for their abysmal collective won-loss record (19-43, .306).

It is clear that the stockpile of starting pitching losses has been inflated due to major contributions from inexplicable bullpen meltdowns, unsteady defensive play, and an inability of the offense to score runs (especially earlier in the season).

We are left with the conclusion we all have known for quite some time that a lot of work must be done on every component of the team in order to right this sinking ship and return the Baltimore Orioles to playoff contending glory.