Baltimore Orioles must resolve their starting rotation woes
As the trade deadline nears, the Orioles must find a way to strengthen their starting rotation to be legitimate contenders come October.
As the midway point of the season nears the trade deadline inches closer which will be a crucial time for the Orioles. As the Orioles begin their 9-game road trip tonight against the San Diego Padres, the first place Baltimore Orioles are 15 games above .500 with a 45-30 record. After the 4-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays, the Orioles lead the American League East standings by 4 1/2 games over the Boston Red Sox and 5 1/2 games ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Orioles have one of the most dominant offenses in the majors with a league-leading 120 home runs, .470 slugging percentage, and third in doubles with 145. On the other hand, the Orioles starting rotation carry a 4.96 ERA, .277 opponents batting average and pitched a lousy 411.2 innings in 75 games started. It’s obvious the Orioles must acquire a starting pitcher aggressively at this year’s trade deadline.
The only bright spot in the Orioles starting rotation is pitcher Chris Tillman, who has won nine consecutive decisions and sits in second place in wins in the American League with a 10-1 record. Following Tillman, Kevin Gausman, who earned his first win of the season Saturday, is the only other starting pitcher with an ERA under 4.00. The six pitchers who have started a game for the Orioles this season, excluding Tillman, have a combined record of 15-22 and have allowed 190 earned runs in 314.9 innings pitched.
Call to the Pen
Executive vice president Dan Duquette has a demanding month of July ahead as he examines the trade market and seeks to enhance the Orioles pitching staff. With a starting rotation loaded with right-handed pitchers, the Orioles are in search of a lefty at the deadline. According to MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi have shown interest in Drew Pomeranz from the San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates Francisco Liriano.
There’s still some uncertainty on if the Pirates plan to deal Liriano this summer. Entering today’s action, the Pirates are 13 games back from first place in the National League Central. However, they sit just 4 1/2 games behind the Mets for the last National League Wild Card spot.
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On the other hand, Pomeranz and the Padres find themselves in the basement of the National League West making it more likely they’ll be sellers at the deadline. So far this season, Pomeranz has a record of 7-7 with a 2.76 ERA in 88 innings pitched. Even though Pomeranz is having a solid year thus far, the Orioles will need to proceed with caution. The lefty has yet to pitch more than 96.2 innings in a single season.
Examining the rest of the starting pitchers on the trade market that the Orioles could potentially acquire to magnify their starting rotation include names like Rich Hill, Jeremy Hellickson, and Sonny Gray. The problem is that if the Orioles want to acquire an effective starting pitcher, they may have difficulty putting together a deal with the shortage of top-tier talent in their farm system.
It’s clear to everyone that if the Orioles want to remain one of the American League powerhouses through the season into the playoffs, they can’t do it with their current rotation. The O’s explosive offense that includes Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo, Chris Davis and Adam Jones have done a tremendous job coming back to win games and keeping the team close in games. What kind of magic do Duquette and the Orioles front office have in store for this year’s trade deadline?