Baltimore Orioles: Who Else Earned A Rotation Spot?
By Nick Stevens
Did anyone on the Baltimore Orioles roster earn a shot at the rotation in 2020? If we have to pick one name, it’s not easy, but there is a clear choice.
On Tuesday morning, MASN.com’s Roch Kubatko closed his morning piece by posing a question to Baltimore Orioles fans about the starting rotation in 2020. We know that All-Star lefty John Means has clearly earned a rotation spot next season, as has Dylan Bundy and Alex Cobb, if he’s healthy.
Kubatko’s question is an easy one to answer: Did anyone outside of Means and Bundy earn a rotation spot based only on a 2019 audition? Only one name stands out as having earned that opportunity: Asher Wojciechowski.
This isn’t to say that Wojo was great or someone who will be around by 2021, or even by the end of 2020, but if we are talking about solely those pitchers currently on the roster, Wojo is it.
There’s no guarantee that Alex Cobb will be healthy enough to make the Opening Day roster, meaning Mike Elias may need to find at least three starters to fill his rotation at the start of the 2020 season.
It’s frustrating to know that an overhaul of the starting rotation and bullpen is needed, yet no major free agents are coming to save the day this offseason. We have to work with whatever is currently on the roster, which isn’t much.
Wojo racked up the innings this season, more than 160 between Triple-A and the big leagues, logging a career-high 82.1 innings at the major league level, his first action since 2017 with the Cleveland Indians. Before 2019, Wojo had surpassed 160 innings just once, back in 2013. Overall, he was 4-8 with a 4.92 ERA and 1.31 WHIP.
He made his debut with the Orioles in July, striking out 37 in 30 innings and recording a 3.60 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in six appearances. In his final two starts of the month (home vs Boston and at Los Angeles), Wojo allowed two earned runs on four hits across 14.1 innings (both starts went at least 7 innings). He walked three and struck out 16, including 10 Red Sox hitters.
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Wojo’s downfall in August didn’t exactly bring about confidence, but his strong finish to the season did. In five September starts, Wojciechowski struck out 19, walked only five, and gave up the fewest number of home runs in a single month (two).
His 0.7 fWAR led all Orioles pitchers in September, just ahead of John Means (0.6) and Dylan Bundy (0.5). Only Dylan Bundy produced a higher swinging strike rate since the beginning of July and no starting pitcher on the roster produced a higher percentage of strikeouts.
To answer Roch’s question, if anyone on this roster earned a shot at the rotation in 2020, my answer is Wojo. Do you agree? If not, who did? One rule, your answer can’t be “no one.” That’s not a fun answer!
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