MLB Trade Rumors: 4 Reasons Baltimore Orioles Must Find Pitching at Deadline
If the Baltimore Orioles are serious about making a playoff run, they're going to have to improve on their starting pitching. Plain and simple.
So far this season, the starting pitching for the team has been pretty on and off. The starters will get hot and string a few good starts together, then they'll collectively suck for two times through the rotation, having the offense and bullpen bail them out.
That's definitely not the way to win all year and in the playoffs, and heck, with starting pitching like that, it's a wonder that the team is still in the race at all.
For the first time in years, the Orioles are going to need to be buyers at the deadline. Buyers of starting pitching. Good starting pitching. They're going to have to get a name or two.
Do that, and the playoffs begin to seem like a very real possibility.
1. No Real Ace
Looking at the team's rotation, there really is no one standout, go-to guy.
Jason Hammel (pictured; left) has been fantastic this season. Better than anyone could have guessed. But can he keep it up? Who knows?
Wei-Yin Chen has been the best starter on the team not named Jason Hammel, but again: who knows if he'll keep it up, especially considering this is his first year in American baseball.
Coming from the Japanese league, he was used to pitching only once a week, so would it really be fair to ask him to help carry the Orioles to and through the playoffs? I'm sure he'll be exhausted by the time the playoffs arrive. But the man will need help—he can't do it alone, or with just Hammel by his side.
Aside from those two, the rest of the rotation has been pretty underwhelming, and at times, horrible.
Who's going to go toe-to-toe with Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, David Price, or Jered Weaver this October for the O's? See, they need an ace.
Granted, it would be very tough to acquire one, especially since the O's farm system is pretty barren and any prospects that are worth trading they'd like to keep. So a dependable middle-of-the-rotation starter is much more likely.
2. Lack of Innings
Innings from starters are a bit of a problem for this team as well, and the bullpen has been working hard all year.
It's important to consistently get six, seven, even eight innings from your starting pitchers. Jake Arrieta has failed to go that far much of the time, due to ineffectiveness. Same goes for Tommy Hunter (pictured).
Brian Matusz has been a bit better with that issue, as he's had a few more decent starts than the other two, but the Orioles need more from him as well.
The O's will need a starter to eat up some innings down the stretch for the bullpen if they want to continue to play well. If the bullpen is burned out before September then the O's are pretty screwed, since the bullpen has been their greatest strength all season long.
3. A Bullpen Arm Would Be Nice
Don't get me wrong, the starting rotation is of a bigger concern, but it would definitely be nice to add a bullpen arm this July.
Just someone who is either a solid middle/long reliever, or an underused set-up man would do the trick.
In other words, a player who could give manager Buck Showalter another option and a little more flexibility.
The O's bullpen has been fantastic this season. However, guys like Troy Patten, Darren O'Day, Luis Ayala, Pedro Strop (pictured) and closer Jim Johnson have been a bit overused out of necessity, and the O's don't need any of those guys burning out before the season is over.
Again, this is only if the right swap presents itself. There's no sense in unloading the farm system for a bullpen arm. Starting pitching comes first.
But a bullpen arm couldn't hurt.
4. Crumbling Down the Stretch
Do you really think the likes of Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, and Brian Matusz (pictured) are going to keep the Orioles in the race through the end of the season?
Unless they drastically—and permanently—change their performances, they won't.
And before you argue that the O's have Zach Britton in the minors, remember that last year was only just his rookie year, and you really have no idea how he's going to perform when he's finally called up from Triple-A. Besides, putting that much pressure on such an inexperienced pitcher just isn't fair.
The O's need some stability in their rotation. Really badly. And not only do they need stability, but they need experience.
As mentioned earlier, the O's had been scouting the Cubs' Matt Garza. He's the type of pitcher who would be perfect to add to the staff—fairly young, under team control for a couple of years, has postseason experience, and has raw stuff. Plus, AL East experience is a huge bonus.
Not saying it has to be Garza, just saying he's a good place to start.