It’s no secret that the Orioles starting pitching has been bad this year.
This morning I started thinking about a way to answer the question “How bad?” I decided one answer to that question is to figure out how many games have been started by a bad pitcher.
There are a lot of ways to measure that but I decided to use ERA+. It isn’t the most comprehensive stat but it’s relatively easy to use and understand. ERA+ simply takes a pitcher’s ERA and compares it to the league average with an additional ballpark adjustment.
A pitcher with an ERA+ of 100 is exactly average. Anybody below 100 is below average. So I looked up all the pitchers who have started for the Orioles this year and noted how many starts they made and their ERA+.
The big picture: the Orioles have played 128 games so far. Their starter has been “below average” in 67 of them.
Let that sink in before we move on.
The Orioles have sent a “below average” pitcher to the mound in more than half their games.
But that’s not the bad part.
Here’s the bad part: the list of the “below average” pitchers.
Ubaldo Jimenez: 19 Starts, 68 ERA+
Yovani Gallardo: 18 Starts, 79 ERA+
Tyler Wilson: 13 Starts, 84 ERA+
Mike Wright: 12 Starts, 76 ERA+
Wade Miley: 5 Starts, 56 ERA+
Those ERA+ numbers aren’t just below average, they’re waaaay below average. They’re bad. Let me rewrite a sentence from above:
The Orioles have sent a “bad” pitcher to the mound in more than half their games.
We’re still missing something: context. Sure it doesn’t look good that a team has given 67 starts to pitchers with an ERA+ of under 85, but how unusual is that really? Only one way to find out: go through the 29 other teams and total up how many starts they’ve given to pitchers this bad.
This is where it went from “bad” to “ugly.”
Toronto has given ZERO starts to pitchers this bad. The Yankees: 9. The Red Sox: 15.
Half the league (15 teams) have had 26 games or fewer started by pitchers with an ERA+ of less than 85.
Only TWO teams have had more starts from pitchers this bad: the Padres at 69 and the Twins at…wait for it…105.
An aside: Ervin Santana (ERA+ 126) has started 23 games for the Twins. Every other game the team has played has been started by a pitcher with an ERA+ of under 85.
So let’s close on a positive note. The Orioles’ starting pitching may be bad but at least it’s not the Twins. And, man, the Orioles’ offense has been amazing to win this many games, given how bad their starting pitching has been.