It had been a relatively quiet offseason for the Baltimore Orioles, but they’ve recently turned up the heat by signing Ubaldo Jimenez, Nelson Cruz and right-hander Suk-min Yoon over the past week. It’s been a flurry of moves that has personnel ramifications throughout the roster. However, perhaps the most significant addition comes in the starting rotation with former All-Star hurler Jimenez.
The rotation has proven to be an a problem for the Orioles in recent years. No team has trotted out a worse collection of starting pitchers than the O’s over the last half-decade. Their 4.87 ERA and 4.82 FIP are the highest in Major League Baseball over that time frame. They’ve accumulated the highest home-run rate, the lowest ground-ball rate (which makes sense, considering the home-run rate) and the second-lowest strikeout rate. In short, it hasn’t been pretty and Orioles fans deserve a medal of some sort for coping with such dreadful pitching.
The organization is hoping to turn it around in 2014, though. The addition of Ubaldo Jimenez, the improvement of Chris Tillman, and the maturation of Kevin Gausman are all supposed to help right the ship. Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris all simply need to not take on water, and the rotation has a decent chance at being league-average. Considering the potent lineup that now adds Nelson Cruz to the mix, the Orioles only need their starters to be average to compete for a postseason berth.
Of course, that’s not something on which I’m comfortable betting as draft day rolls around this spring.
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