Considering how poorly the pitching for the Baltimore Orioles has been in recent years, it is easy to forget that there was a time when the Baltimore Orioles were known for their great pitching prowess.
The Orioles had at least one 20-game winner in ever season between 1968 and 1980 (including all four starters in 1971) and 11 different pitchers have won 20 games for the Orioles. Surprisingly, it has actually been 25 years since Mike Boddicker posted the most recent 20 win season for the Birds in 1984.
However, the Orioles still had some solid pitching performances in the 1990s led by Mike Mussina. The current decade has not been quite as kind for the Orioles as no Baltimore pitcher has won more than 15 games in a season since Mussina won 18 in 1999.
So here is a list of the top 10 pitchers in Baltimore Orioles history. I’m sure it is no surprise that no member of the current staff is on the list. Perhaps one of the “young guns” currently making their way through the minor leagues can one day penetrate this list, but for now here is my top 10:
An important reliever during 11 seasons with the Orioles, Tippy Martinez pitched in 499 games and registered 105 saves. He posted a 52-40 record with a 3.46 earned run average.
Martinez registered a career high 21 saves and earned his only All-Star trip in 1983. He earned two saves during the 1983 World Series.
A talented starting pitcher, Dennis Martinez displayed periods of brilliance during his 11 seasons with the Orioles, but was often inconsistent.
He twice registered 16 wins in a season and tied for the Major League lead with 14 wins during the strike shortened 2001 season. He posted a 108-93 record for the Orioles with a 4.16 earned run average.
Martinez went on to enjoy another decade of success pitching for the Montreal Expos and Cleveland Indians and finished his career with 245 victories.
A valuable reliever, Stu Miller saved 100 games in five seasons for the Orioles. He registered a 38-36 record with a 2.37 earned run average. He led the league with 27 saves in 1963.
In 1965, Miller registered a 14-7 record with a 1.89 ERA and also saved 24 games. Miller saved 18 games as the Orioles won the World Series in 1966.
If you combined the success Milt Pappas had on the mound for the Orioles with the success of the player the O’s received after trading him following the 1965 season –Frank Robinson– you could probably make a case to put Pappas much higher on this list.
In eight full seasons for the Orioles, Pappas posted a 110-74 record with a 3.24 earned run average. He twice won 16 games in a season and was named to three All-Star teams.
A valuable left-hander, Scott McGregor posted double-digit victories in nine straight years for the Orioles. He won 20 games in 1980 and in 1983 posted an 18-7 record to help lead the Orioles to the World Series title.
In six postseason games, McGregor posted a 3-3 record with a 1.63 earned run average. He finished his Orioles career with a 138-108 career record and 3.99 ERA.
A key member of the Orioles rotation for a decade, Mike Flanagan was the American League Cy Young winner in 1979 while posting a 23-9 record and 3.08 ERA. He won 19 games in 1978 and 16 in 1980.
During the 1983 season, he posted a 12-4 record with a 3.30 ERA to help the Orioles to the World Championship. In 15 seasons with the Orioles, he registered a 141-116 record with a 3.89 earned run average.
The top pitcher for the Orioles during the 1990s, Mike Mussina registered a 147-81 record in 10 seasons for the O’s. He went 18-5 with a 2.54 ERA during his first full season with the team in 1992. He posted 19 victories in both the 1995 and 1996 seasons.
In 1999, he went 18-7 with a 3.50 ERA.
Mussina left the Orioles following the 2000 season and retired following the 2008 season with a 270-153 career record.
An exciting left-handed hurler, Mike Cuellar had four seasons of 20+ victories during his first six seasons with the Orioles and won 18 games in each of the other two seasons. He went 23-11 with a 2.38 ERA to share the Cy Young Award during his first season with the Orioles in 1969.
In 1970, Cuellar went 24-8 and earned the victory in game five of the 1970 World Series to clinch the title over the Cincinnati Reds. Cuellar won 20 games in 1971 and 22 games in 1974. In eight seasons with the Orioles, he registered a 143-88 record with a 3.18 ERA.
The best of an impressive collection of left-handed pitchers in Orioles history, Dave McNally was an important part of the great Baltimore rotation of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
He posted a 181-113 record in 13 seasons with a 3.18 ERA. McNally pitched a four hit shutout to clinch the 1966 World Series title for the Orioles.
His career postseason record was 7-4 with a 2.49 ERA. He also hit two World Series home runs, including a grand slam during the 1970 World Series. He registered four straight 20+ victory seasons between 1968-1971 and in 1970 he tied for the league lead with 24 victories.
No pitcher in Baltimore Orioles history has won as many games or been as vital to the success of the franchise as Jim Palmer.
As a 20-year-old in 1966, Palmer shut out the Los Angeles Dodgers in game two of the World Series in what would be the final career start for Sandy Koufax.
Seventeen years later, he earned a victory out of the bullpen in game three of the 1983 World Series. Palmer is the only player to have been on all three of the Orioles World Championship teams (1966, 1970 and 1983).
He registered eight 20+ victory seasons and was a three-time winner of the Cy Young award. Palmer finished his career with a 268-152 career record and a 2.86 ERA. He was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1990.