Forty years ago, the Baltimore Orioles had arguably the greatest pitching rotation of all time. Back then, four pitchers won over 20 games for the O's. In 2011, just two won over 10 games. My, how things have changed.
Last season, the Orioles had the worst rotation in baseball, posting a 5.39 ERA that was a full 1.3 runs above the league average. Their 60 quality starts were 11 behind the second-to-last Colorado Rockies, and not surprisingly, their 5.4 innings per start ranked last by a wide margin. Only three starters won over four games, and 24-year-old Brian Matusz, the presumed ace entering the season, finished 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA.
Just a little over two years ago, Baseball America praised the Orioles for their “volume of arms with legitimate promise”. Now, no one is sure what to think.
With ten candidates fighting for five rotation spots, quite a bit remains unanswered heading into spring:
-Will any of new GM Dan Duquette’s offseason acquisitions (Dana Eveland, Wei-Yin Chen & Tsuyoshi Wada) even make the staff?
-Can Tommy Hunter return to the numbers he posted in Texas?
-Will the former top prospects (Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Chris Tillman) show any sort of consistency?
For now, here’s a look at what to expect from the Orioles staff come Opening Day 2012: