Orioles: Six For Five

Posted Tuesday May 28, 2013 at 8:37:41 pm in Real Sports

Steve Johnson, Jair Jurrjens, Kevin Gausman, Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Josh Stinson

What do they all have in common? They're part of the not-so merry-go-round going on in the Orioles rotation. 

And every one of them has been ineffective. And I don't think it's going to get better any time soon. At least not until Wei-Yin Chen comes back from his right strained oblique injury.

As it stands right now, the Orioles rotation is made up of:

Just by looking at the numbers above, you can make some assumptions:

  • Jason Hammel has the W-L record of an ace, but certainly not the peripherals (1.462 WHIP, 10.1 H/9) or ERA
  • Tillman and Gonzalez are pitching like mid range starters (Tillman is teetering on being a traditional #2)
  • Garcia is pitching like a #5, even though he's our #4 as of now
  • The "#5" spot is cursed

How cursed? How about looking at the numbers as starters:

  • Jake Arrieta: 6.63 ERA, 1.632 WHIP
  • Zach Britton: 9.00 ERA, 2.000 WHIP (only one start)
  • Steve Johnson: 13.50 ERA, 2.750 WHIP (only one start)
  • Jair Jurrjens: 7.20 ERA, 1.400 WHIP (only one start)
  • Kevin Gausman: 11.00 ERA, 4 home runs (two starts)
  • Josh Stinson: 7.94 ERA, 4 home runs (only one start)

Those numbers are terrible. And it's a snapshot of just how bad things have been from the #5 spot. 

Suddenly Jake Arrieta doesn't look so bad does he? (Ok, he does....but not comparatively!)

So what do we (the Orioles) do? 

Well, wishful thinking would be to acquire someone. I'd love Cliff Lee as much as the next guy, but it's not going to happen. But who else is available that wouldn't cost us the farm?

An exercise would be to take the worst teams in MLB and see who would be available. 

  • Houston Astros: Bud Norris (3.71 ERA, 1.508 WHIP, 28 years old, FA in 2016)
  • Miami Marlins: Ricky Nolasco (3.65 ERA, 1.145 WHIP, 30 years old, FA in 2014), Kevin Slowey (3.30 ERA, 1.221 WHIP, 29 years old, FA in 2015)
  • New York Mets: nobody, really. No way you're getting Harvey, so noone else worthwhile.
  • Milwaukee Brewers: Gallardo or Estrada, but can't see the Brew Crew trading either.
  • Chicago Cubs: Matt Garza (29 years old, FA in 2014). Samardzija and Wood are most likely off limits.

The Mets are a rebuilding team, so they're not going to give up young, controllable starting pitching. Same with the Cubs. The Cubs have dangled Garza in the past, so he's probably the only option available from the Cubs. Especially with a half of season left before he's a free agent.

So trade partners are looking more and more like the Astros and the Marlins. And the Cubs for Matt Garza.

Bud Norris, Kevin Slowey, Ricky Nolasco, Matt Garza. In order of preference? Nolasco, Norris, Garza, Slowey.

  • The problem with Garza is health. Only 2 starts this year. Only 18 starts in 2012.
  • Bud Norris is young and controllable from 2013-2015. His WHIP is terrible, but he'd be a solid #5.
  • Kevin Slowey isn't a free agent until 2015. He'll probably be the cheapest. 
  • Ricky Nolasco would be the best starter out of the group, but he'll be pricey.

Don't be surprised if the Orioles are making calls on any of the above.

Okay, so that's acquiring someone (option #1).

Option #2 is just sticking with Gausman until he figures it out. Or until Wada or Chen are available.

Option #3 is sending down Gausman and sticking one of McFarland or Steve Johnson in the rotation until Wada or Chen or are available.

What would I do? Assuming an acquisition isn't in the books, of course (otherwise I'd be talking to the Marlins and the Astros yesterday).

Option Gausman. He has things to work on. Going 4-5 IP and allowing that number of long balls isn't going to get it done. I think he'll be back up eventually, but he has some things to work on. Primarily his secondary pitches...and most likely not tipping his pitches.

  • Make one of McFarland or Steve Johnson the #5. Ideally McFarland since he's a lefty and our entire rotation is full of righties. I think the Orioles are relucant to do so, so I'd expect Johnson.
  • If/when Wada is ready, you make him your #5 and patch together a #5 with Wada + Johnson/McFarland
  • As soon as Chen is ready, he goes back in the rotation (obviously)

So, it's easy to see what I would do without trading for someone. Weather the storm, but send Gausman down to get things worked out. 

The Orioles will keep their #5 option in house. It's either Steve Johnson, TJ McFarland, or Zach Britton (even though Zach shouldn't be called up). 

But if Dan Duquette is reading this: Stop reading this. Call Houston, Miami, and Chicago post-haste. Break the curse, Dan. Break the curse.

The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer’s view