The 2020 Baltimore Orioles are currently stocked with a bunch of young players who are – hopefully – on their way to greatness.
But, in recent memory, it seems like the Baltimore Orioles was once a place where previously successful pitchers came to end their careers.
Take Ubaldo Jimenez for example.
He played for three teams, the Rockies, Indians, then the O’s. In six seasons in Colorado – where balls FLY out of the park in that fresh mountain air – he posted a career ERA of 3.66. No one does that in Denver. He kept up the success in Cleveland.
Then, he came to Baltimore and got worse each season. He actually ended his career with the most earned runs in the AL in 2017. Surprisingly, he signed back with the Rockies in February 2020 – maybe he’ll have his stuff back again.
But, Jimenez isn’t the only pitcher who saw success with other teams, then lost it in Baltimore. Take Kevin Millwood. He wasn’t quite as consistently successful as Jimenez, but when you look at the guy’s stats with all of the other teams, his time in Baltimore stands out as being exceptionally bad.
And, on June 19, 2010, he made a mark that is worth noting. He only pitched in Baltimore that season – which is probably a good thing. Prior to June 19, he pitched in 14 games, and 10 of them were losses. He earned a loss in eight of them. June 19 marked his first win as an Orioles pitcher.
The losses weren’t just little one-run losses; well, two of them were. Some were big fat blow-outs, like a 7-12 loss to the Yankees (he gave up six runs) or a 4-11 loss to the Mets (he gave up 8 runs). They were ugly.
So, on most days, we wouldn’t necessarily focus on something as 35-year-old pitcher’s first win in an Orioles uniform. But, when there’s not much happening in baseball, you do what you can. In Jimenez’s final season with the O’s, it didn’t take him that long to earn a win, he actually began the season pitching in four games that were all wins.
But, in those four games, he was the only pitcher who gave up any runs. That was pretty much the M.O. for him in in 2017.
The 2017 team was decent, too. But, pitching made it tough for Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Chris Davis, and Trey Mancini to score more runs than the pitchers gave up. Like in 2010, the 2017 O’s finished last in the AL East, but with a record of 75-87. It can be tough to be an O’s fan sometimes.
Millwood and Jimenez aren’t pitchers who will go down in history as Hall of Famers. In fact, they both attended one All-Star game: Millwood in his 3rd season, Jimenez in his 5th. They both had success in their younger seasons.
Millwood earned an ERA title in 2005 with the Indians. He also lead the NL in WHIP in 1999 with the Braves. Jimenez had a win-loss title with the Rockies in 2010. Jimenez also had 17 losses in 2012 with the Indians, topping the AL. Millwood’s 16 losses in 2010 with the O’s topped the AL that season. Both finished third in Cy Young voting in their single All-Star years.
Jimenez had moments, and so did Millwood. Just not in their single or final years with the O’s. The worst part is that the O’s spent $12 million on Millwood (a lot for 2010 money). They also way overpaid Jimenez, paying him double what the Indians gave him. Hopefully, the team has learned to avoid overpaying for mid-level pitchers who might just be past their prime.