While the starting pitching market has dried up considerably at this point, there are a couple of interesting names still out there that are worth a second glance:
Justin Duchscherer and John Maine.
In my opinion, those guys are the two best options left, though I'll admit, their injury history does scare me. But both have had some success in their careers, which is why it might be worth it for the Orioles to take a chance on one of them. Not to mention they'd probably come cheap.
Let's start with Duchscherer. The guy has always been a great pitcher with great stuff. Mainly a reliever throughout his career with the Oakland A's, his last full season was as a starter in 2008, when he pitched to a 10-8 record to the tune of a 2.54 ERA over 141.2 innings pitched. Granted, the innings total isn't what Orioles President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail would be looking for, but the effectiveness and veteran label is. Another plus is his low walk rate, having walked only 34 in 2008.
The turn-off here is, while he has a solid record of 33-25 with a 3.13 ERA throughout his career, he's been riddled with injuries since 2008, having made only five starts since then, all coming during last year's 2010 campaign.
Obviously, he would need to prove he is completely healthy before any team would want to sign him, something he will be trying to do tomorrow when throwing a bullpen session for the O's. Though that statement may get some O's fans excited, it's nothing to read too much into, as MacPhail has said it's more a formality than anything and that he does that with multiple pitchers every offseason. Still, O's fans can only hope that Duchscherer does prove such a thing and can be signed and contribute to the team like he did for the A's in 2008.
Maine, like Duchscherer, has had injury problems dating back several years. A former Orioles' prospect who was traded to the New York Mets for former number one pick, Kris Benson, before the 2006 season, Maine had success during his first two years in the NL East. In 2006, he had a 3.60 ERA over 90.0 innings pitched, and followed that up by having his best season to date, winning 15 games for the Mets with a 3.91 ERA over 191.0 innings pitched.
Then the injuries started coming, and he hasn't had a solid full year since. Like Duchscherer, if Maine can prove he is healthy, he could be a nice find for the Orioles, whos main objective in looking for another starter is finding someone who can provide innings, depth, and a veteran influence to a young staff. One could argue that the Orioles already have staff ace by default Jeremy Guthrie for that role, but as history has proven, he does much better with help.
Overall, if either could stay healthy for the entire 2011 season, they could do a fine job in helping the Orioles win some ballgames as a third or fourth starter. And both, in my opinion, are much more attractive pieces than what's left on the free agent and trade market, in terms of past effectiveness.
Of course, if one of them are signed and pitching well for the O's come the trade deadline, and the team isn't in contention, the pitcher could be traded to a contending team for a young prospect or two.
The Orioles need one more starter. Both of these pitchers need to prove they're healthy and still effective. If they're healthy right now, Andy, sign one of them.
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