Baltimore Orioles: Five Best Individual Pitching Performances This Decade
By Nick Stevens
The list of top pitching performances by a Baltimore Orioles pitcher this decade is a bit underwhelming.
To go along with our recently published piece of the top five seasons for a Baltimore Orioles hitter this decade, we conclude 2019 with our final piece, a look at the top five seasons for an Orioles pitcher from 2010-2019.
This list contains performances that don’t compare to what we saw offensively from the Orioles. It’s hard to believe that Baltimore experienced five seasons of .500 or better ball over the last ten years with the collection of pitchers who have toed the rubber, but they found a way to win.
The leading pitching performance in Baltimore was worth just 3.1 fWAR, which would rank 35th among major league pitchers in 2019. We can only hope that our list will be more impressive come 2029!
Just like our offensive list, we ranked each performance using Fangraphs’ Wins Above Replacement value.
t-3) Wei-Yin Chen 2015 season- 2.8 fWAR
He was the only Orioles starter to post an ERA under 4.00 in 2015 and threw more innings (191) than anyone else on this list in a single season, it’s the 2015 performance from Wei-Yin Chen. Making 31 starts, Chen finished with an 11-8 record, a 3.34 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP, and a 153/41 K/BB ratio.
It would be Chen’s last season in an Orioles uniform, a four-year career that began with a 12 win season and a fourth-place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting. After four seasons with the Miami Marlins and struggling out of the bullpen last season, the 34-year-old is now a free agent.
t-3) Dylan Bundy 2017 season- 2.8 fWAR
The first three pitchers on this list all accumulated 2.8 Wins Above Replacement during their seasons, including Dylan Bundy’s 2017 campaign. Bundy went 13-9 with a 4.24 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 28 starts. His 13 wins are the most by a pitcher on this list.
The 24-year-old righty struck out a little more than 8/9 IP and was the only starting pitcher on the Orioles staff to walk fewer than 3/9 IP that season.
Unfortunately, Bundy would follow up his ’17 season by leading the league in losses and home runs allowed in 2018 before showing slight improvements in ’19 and being traded this offseason to the Los Angeles Angels. Once considered one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, Bundy was never able to live up to the hype in Baltimore.
t-3) Brian Matusz 2010 season- 2.8 fWAR
Any top pitching list that includes Brian Matusz is quite the list, and not in a good way. Pitching for a 66 win team in 2010, Matusz made 32 starts for the Orioles, going 10-12 with a 4.30 ERA in the process. His performance earned himself a fifth-place finish in American League Rookie of the Year voting.
His 7.3 K/9 IP led a rotation comprised of Kevin Millwood (4-16 that year), Jeremy Guthrie, and Brad Bergesen.
Last we heard of Matusz, he was pitching in independent ball with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League.
2) John Means 2019 season- 3.0 fWAR
It’s a good thing John Means didn’t follow through after creating that LinkedIn profile for himself. An All-Star in 2019 and runner-up in American League Rookie of the Year voting, John Means was one of the few bright spots for the Baltimore Orioles last season and will look to lead a young and inexperienced staff in 2020.
More from Birds Watcher
- Baltimore Orioles Sign RP Mychal Givens
- Gunnar Henderson: Destroyer of Four-Seam Fastballs
- Which Current Baltimore Orioles Pitchers Have the Best Curveballs?
- Orioles News: Should the O’s Pursue Eovaldi? + More MLB News
- Should the Baltimore Orioles Consider Signing Nathan Eovaldi?
Making 31 total appearances (27 starts), Means went 12-11 with a 3.60 ERA in 2019, striking out 19% of hitters he faced and walking just 6%. Means limited opponents to a .232 average and despite recording a groundball rate of just 31%, the lefty gave up 23 home runs in 155 innings pitched. That’s not a terrible number considering the 2019 juiced baseball and pitching in Camden Yards.
1) Kevin Gausman 2016 season- 3.1 fWAR
He was a member of our All-Decade team and he goes down as having the top performance from 2010-2019, by fWAR standards, for the Baltimore Orioles. Now a member of the San Francisco Giants, Gausman went 9-12 with a 3.61 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 2016.
Gausman tied Chris Tillman for the team-lead in starts with 30 (Tillman finished 16-6 with a 3.77 ERA), struck out a team-leading 174 hitters and walked just 47 in 179.2 innings (also led the ’16 Orioles).
His 3.1 fWAR ranked 32nd in the majors, tied with Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen and Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Michael Fulmer.
With prospects like Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall working their way up through the Orioles system, hopefully we see this 3.1 mark shattered in the next decade and our list looks a bit more impressive ten years from now.
That will do it. Thank you for a record-breaking 2019! We’re looking forward to providing you even more coverage of the Baltimore Orioles and the minor leagues in 2020. Stay safe, Birdland.