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The second weakness the Black and Orange are facing entering 2013 is very similar to their troubles at first base. The Birds failed to string together a consistent starting rotation for any length of time over the course of the 2012 season, and that needs to change in a big way.
Last year, the Birds used 12 different starting pitchers and ranked 21st in the majors in ERA from their rotation. In the AL, they ranked ninth out of the 14 teams.
Collectively, the Birds posted a 61-58 record with a 4.42 ERA. In 937.2 innings of work, they surrendered 460 earned runs on 946 base hits, including 136 home runs allowed and a .261 opponents' batting average.
Four of the Orioles hurlers that started games sported ERAs of five or higher, while eight of the 12 Birds finished with an ERA of at least 4.02 or higher.
For example, Jake Arrieta, who posted his worst season of his young career, started 18 contests for the Orioles and finished the year with a 6.20 ERA. After allowing six earned runs over just 3.2 innings of work on July 5, the Birds demoted him to Triple-A Norfolk. He returned in September, though not to the starting rotation.
As I have written in previous articles, besides searching for a proven, power-hitting first baseman, Baltimore must focus on their starting rotation.
No questions asked.
There is no way they can contend in the powerhouse AL East with a rotation ERA over 4.00 runs per game. Two of the four postseason AL teams (the Tigers and A’s) finished with starting ERAs of 3.76 and 3.80 respectively.
Besides the Orioles, the Yankees were the other team to qualify for the postseason, and their starter’s ERA touched just higher than 4.00 (4.04).
So, it’s imperative for the Birds starting rotation to lower their collective ERA. One of the ways they can accomplish that feat is through a set rotation: Choose who deserves to be in the rotation and stick with them!
Personally, I think they need to go out and sign a proven, experienced veteran to lead the staff. But, I do not see that happening. They have so many potential starters; I feel like they are going to go with who they have and hope for the best.
As of the end of December, both the Orioles and Mariners are in the hunt for the Tigers’ Rick Porcello. In three seasons, the 24-year-old sports a 48-42 record with a 4.55 ERA. Last season, he posted a 10-12 record with a 4.59 ERA and struggled to stay in the starting rotation due to injury.
He should be healthy come next year, and I think he would be a great addition toward the top of the rotation. Although the Birds have an abundance of possible starters, the Birds need an established, consistent starting pitcher.
Porcello has proven he can pitch on a winning team, and I think he would help teach the younger starters because he is young and can relate. He also has experience on a strong team (not to mention, he has worked with Verlander and has learned a great deal from him, I’m sure).
Consistency is the key next season. Without it, they will be buried in the East.