Of all the new pitchers brought in by Baltimore Orioles, did any of them do enough to stick around for 2020, or longer?
I know the Baltimore Orioles pitching is bad. You know how bad they are. The entire baseball world knows that if you’re in a slump and see the Orioles coming up on the schedule, things are about to turn around for you. But to their credit, we have seen plenty of improvements from a handful of players as the season has progressed.
The 2019 season was all about evaluating players currently in the organization and searching out for low-cost options to try and find a diamond in the rough. On the offensive side of things, Hanser Alberto has certainly been quite the find. Pedro Severino also outperformed expectations and appears to be a perfectly fine option to manage games from behind the plate while Adley Rutschman works his way up the ladder. But what about the pitchers?
For this piece, we’re only looking at pitchers brought in via free agency, trade, or waiver claim since last offseason, and only those who pitched in the major leagues.
The list of pitchers brought into Baltimore this season is a long, largely depressing list of arms who were clear misses by the organization. Nate Karns pitched just 5.1 innings at the big league level and attempted a comeback after recovering from an injury, which didn’t pan out very well. Karns was the lone major league free agent signing for Baltimore, despite having not pitched since 2017, so the results here weren’t shocking.
There was also Dan Straily who had one of the worst pitching performances ever for a Baltimore Orioles pitcher. Straily’s short-lived time in Birdland resulted in a 2-4 record, 9.82 ERA, and 1.99 WHIP. In 47.2 innings, Straily gave up 73 hits, 22 of those were home runs. He was eventually designated for assignment, accepted a role in Triple-A with the Norfolk Tides (dominated with a 4-2, 2.38 ERA, 0.94 WHIP), and was ultimately traded at the trade deadline to Philadelphia for cash considerations.
He never made it back to the bigs, spending the rest of 2019 in Triple-A, unable to replicate his success with the Tides (1-4, 5.18 ERA in six starts with Lehigh Valley).
We can’t forget the soft-tossing Tom Eshelman, who went 1-2 with a 6.50 ERA and gave up 12 home runs in 36 innings. Eshelman was also DFA’d and accepted an assignment to Triple-A where I wouldn’t be shocked to see him return in 2020 as a spring training arm.
Ty Blach seemed like someone who could have a little success out of the bullpen, with the right team. That team was clearly not Baltimore and his role is certainly not as a starting pitcher. Blach owned an 11.32 ERA in 20.2 innings. He walked 13 hitters and gave up six home runs during his time in an O’s uniform. Blach was designated for assignment this week to make room for RHP Eric Hanhold, a waiver claim from the New York Mets who won’t pitch in the organization until next year.
Others have included Ryan Eades, Aaron Brooks, and Chandler Shepherd. Eades tossed 3.1 scoreless innings before giving up a grand slam on Saturday night to give the Orioles loss number 100 on the year. Shepherd was a disaster in Triple-A, but hasn’t been terrible in his seven innings at the major league level as a reliever. He gave up three runs on four hits, striking out four and walking one in his first major league start on Tuesday night against Toronto. Two of those hits were home runs.
Aaron Brooks has looked intriguing at times, but when things go downhill, they get out of control pretty quickly for Brooks. He doesn’t have high strikeout numbers or an impressive groundball rate, or something that really stands out to hang his hat on.
It also doesn’t look like he’s going to see many more innings the rest of the way this season.
So, which of the new guys has done enough to make a contribution in 2020? Let’s discuss two who may have earned that opportunity