Bob Haynie: The Starting Rotation Is Key For The Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles added another bat this week when they signed former Texas Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz to a one-year contract. Cruz, who has hit at least 20 homers in five-straight seasons, brings even more pop to a Baltimore lineup that was already considered to be one of the most powerful in baseball.
I may not be going out on a limb here, but I don’t think the Orioles are going to have a hard time scoring runs in 2014.
However, will they be able to prevent opposing clubs from putting up large offensive numbers? We shall see. If they can, this should be a very enjoyable summer here in the Charm City.
Obviously, starting pitching is going to have to be a positive factor for the Birds if they want to be a force in the AL East.
In 2013, Orioles starters posted an ERA of 4.57 which ranked 27th in the majors. They also served up 145 home runs. The most allowed by any rotation in all of baseball. Of course, those numbers were not impressive and need to improve.
The signing of RHP Ubaldo Jimenez was huge. Jimenez brings durability and strikeouts to the equation. He also keeps the ball in the park which helps when you pitch at Camden Yards.
RHP Chris Tillman has won 25 games over the last two seasons and is coming off a 2013 in which he pitched 206.1 innings. At 25 years old, he is projected to be the ace of the staff and his best days are still ahead of him.
In RHP Miguel Gonzalez and LHP Wei-Yin Chen, the Orioles have two players who need to take it up a notch in 2014. Both battled injuries and some inconsistency. Fortunately, both are capable major league pitchers who have been through pennant race pressure.
RHP Bud Norris is projected–for now–to be in the Baltimore rotation. Norris, who came over from the Houston Astros, gets his share of K’s. He also gives up his share of hits as he allowed 196 of them in 176.2 IP. His spot in the rotation might be the most precarious. If LHP Zach Britton or RHP Kevin Gausman impress during spring training, Norris could find himself in the bullpen.
Needless to say, manager Buck Showalter will have some interesting decisions to make with some of these arms. He would also like to have more stability in his rotation than he has had over the last two seasons.
There is some talent here with the starters. Can they put it all together?
I’m still not sure.