Six innings, two runs, six hits, no walks & six strikeouts was the line for new Orioles starting pitcher Scott Feldman in last night’s 4-2 win over the White Sox. In the 7th inning, he gave way to a guy who was a groomsman in his wedding, Darren O’Day, who then exited in favor of Feldman’s former Rangers teammate Tommy Hunter. All three of them watched as Chris Davis hit a pop fly over 330 feet into the left field seats for his 32nd homer in the 4th and willed a roper to stay fair down the right field line in the 8th to break the 2-2 tie.
Back-to-back singles off Jim Johnson in the 9th kept the team & fans on their toes, but Johnson notched his 29th save in the end.
Like in 2012, the Orioles have fought their way through a tough game of musical starting pitchers, Feldman was the 13th different pitcher to start a game this season, not exactly the picture of continuity. However, with the addition of Feldman, a veteran with playoff experience and the news that
Wei-Yin Chen will soon return to the club, the starting pitcher carousel may finally be slowing down. Here are my observations on the 12 other pitchers who have started for the Orioles this season.
Zach Britton: He is 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA, but Britton’s 3 outings in June were about as solid as one could ask for from a guy who jumped from the minors on short notice. Britton needs to continue to improve, his spot as a starter looks to be the one up for grabs with the impending return of Chen.
Kevin Gausman: Rookie Gausman has looked confident in two relief appearances after five impressive but inconsistent starts; he picked up his first career win with 4 1/3 excellent innings against the Yankees last week. For now, it looks as though Gausman will remain in the bullpen, possibly shuttling between there & AAA until rosters expand in September.
Miguel Gonzalez: Currently sitting at 6-3 with a 3.77 ERA, Gonzalez started pitching deeper into games in his June starts, a big help for a bullpen that was overworked in April & May. Other than Chris Tillman, Gonzalez has been the most consistent pitcher for the Orioles this season.
Jason Hammel: The 2013 Opening Day starter, Hammel has struggled recently, giving up twice as many home runs as he did all of last season (18 so far vs. 9 last season). His record is 7-5, but his 5.19 ERA and the 108 hits he has given up over 100 2/3 innings are not #1 starter kind of statistics.
T.J. McFarland: A Rule 5 Draft pickup this season, T.J. McFarland pitched okay in his spot start against the Yankees & CC Sabathia, but he was bailed out by Kevin Gausman, who got the win that day. McFarland seems to have found a home with Darren O’Day & Brian Matusz as the long men in the bullpen.
Chris Tillman: 25-year old Tillman has quietly pitched himself to a 10-2 record with a 3.68 ERA & 81 strikeouts. His starts aren’t always the prettiest, there are points where he seems to lose track of the strike zone, but his ability to get out of jams with limited damage helped him go 6-0 in June.
Freddy Garcia: Garcia’s 5.77 ERA & 16 home runs given up in just 11 starts this year are exactly what the Orioles can’t afford. While he pitched brilliantly against the Nationals on 5/30 (8 innings/no runs), he fell apart against Toronto on 6/23 (2.1 innings/7 runs). Garcia recently accepted an assignment to Norfolk.
Jair Jurrjens: Currently in AAA with the Tides, Jurrjens has shown flashes of what made him a success story in Atlanta. Other than some mop up duty in last Saturday’s 11-3 win over the Yankees, Jurrjens has only appeared in one other game with Baltimore.
Jake Arrieta: When he was drafted in 2007, Arrieta was supposed to be the next great Orioles starter. He was the Opening Day starter in 2011 & 2012, but never seemed to harness the consistency to stay in the majors. Arrieta was shipped to the Cubs on Monday, a change of scenery may help Arrieta “pull a Chris Davis” and become a strong starting pitcher in the majors.
Wei-Yin Chen: Last season, Chen’s succes was a huge reason why the team stayed competitive into October. Before being slowed by an oblique strain, Chen’s eight starts this year left him with a 3-3 record & a 3.04 ERA. His five starts in May were especially strong and getting him back in the rotation should bring some much needed stability going into the 2nd half.
Josh Stinson: Full disclosure, when I saw that Josh Stinson had started a game this season, I didn’t know who he was. While I didn’t recognize him, I do remember the game he started, a 6-5 loss to Toronto on 4/24 that ended the team’s 17-game extra inning win streak. Stinson’s stat line–five hits over 5 2/3 innings, wasn’t terrible, but four of those hits were home runs. Stinson was optioned back to Norfolk after the game.
Steve Johnson: The injury bug has bitten Johnson again this year, specifically an oblique injury that landed him on the DL. When he’s healthy, Johnson has been a big arm in the bullpen (he made 1 start this year, giving up six runs on seven hits in 4 innings against the Twins) but Johnson has spent the bulk of the year on the DL.
Whew! That’s a lot of starters! With Chen coming back, the starters are about to outnumber the available spots in the rotation, so I’ll turn it over to you, who will be the new starting rotation for the Orioles? Has Britton done enough to keep a spot? Should the team shorten the leash on Hammel? Are you impressed with Tillman & Gonzalez? How about Feldman’s first start? Let me know!