What if I told you… that the 2018 Baltimore Orioles are primed for a playoff run?
If you haven’t already clicked off this article in disgust, thanks for staying.
After one of the most disappointing seasons of Orioles baseball in my lifetime, and their first losing record since 2011, it may seem a bit facetious to feel confident about a bounce back year in 2018. However, when you delve into the numbers, it all becomes a bit clearer.
The 2017 squad had a historically (embarrassingly) bad starting rotation. Buckle up your chinstraps because it is about to get ugly. The combination of Wade Miley, Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez and Jeremy Hellickson started 53% (86 games) for the O’s. This band of brothers amassed a combined 17-39 record, with a 6.80 ERA.
How can a team win with a near 7 ERA put up by their starters in over half of the games played? Well, 2017 taught us that it can’t. Truthfully though, it’s even worse than the 17-39 record would indicate.
Ubaldo and Miley combined for 14 wins, meaning that 29 starts from “ace” Tillman and playoff push acquisition Hellickson combined for 3 wins and an ERA near 7.50.
It’s honestly a bit laughable how bad the rotation was in 2017.
Okay, I’ve taken a shower to wash the stench of those numbers off. Let’s try to be positive for a moment.
Despite one of the most disgusting pitching staffs ever assembled, the O’s did win 75 games, as the makeup of this lineup and bullpen has remained largely unchanged since 2012. There were stretches where they made us believe, if only for a moment, that they were playoff bound.
So how do we eclipse 85 wins next year and make a playoff push? Thankfully, none of the aforementioned starters are under contract for 2018. nd, a quick glance at the available free agent pitchers produces hope: Alex Cobb, Jhoulys Chacin, Andrew Cashner, and Lance Lynn would all look good in black and orange, and although they would obviously have other suitors besides the O’s, wouldn’t be outrageously expensive as will Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish.
Could the Orioles take a look at a vet like CC Sabathia or R.A. Dickey? “Why not?” would be my answer, because we aren’t talking about signing aces here, just improving upon the unsightly 6.80 ERA that was produced in 53% of games by starting pitchers (if you scoffed at the mention of Sabathia or Dickey, Sabathia would have had the best ERA on the O’s by almost a full run, and Dickey would have been second just behind Dylan Bundy).
Regardless of who they sign (which presumably will be 2-3 guys), if they can just move the 17-39 mark to 28-28, which is not being outrageous in expectation, it immediately puts them in the playoff picture.
Add a high OBP corner OFer that can lead off, and I’ll see you at the yard in October. First round on me.