Orioles Rotation Isn’t Built To Pitch Deep Into Games, Stop Worrying About It

Jake Arrieta - OriolesThere appears to be a growing concern about the Orioles starters only pitching into the fifth or sixth inning over their first 14 games of the season. I’ve seen local sports talkers tweeting about it (I don’t listen to local sports talk radio) and read several blog posts about the topic. Folks seem genuinely upset that the O’s staff isn’t throwing complete game gems and worry that the bullpen will be burned out because of overuse.

While this is a concern for some pitchers, like Jake Arrieta who threw 112 pitches through 5+ innings on Monday against the Rays, I don’t think it’s fair to lump the entire Orioles starting five into this “problem.” In 2013, rotations aren’t built to throw complete games, especially the Orioles’ starters, and bullpens are constructed to come in for relief in the seventh, eighth and ninth. In fact, the O’s have set guys specifically for each of those innings.

Crazy, right?

This old school mentality of a pitcher going the distance is incredibly rare in baseball today. Guys don’t throw 140 pitches anymore. Only the elite are expected to pitch into the eighth or ninth innings and, in case you forgot, the Orioles have solid pitching depth, but no ace in their rotation. Who’s their Justin Verlander or David Price or Matt Cain?

What they lack in the starting five, they make up for in the bullpen. T.J. McFarland has stepped up as a strong long-inning reliever, Brian Matusz has shown the ability to shutdown left handed bats, Darren O’Day has the eighth inning locked down and everyone knows Jim Johnson can get the final three outs.

Using these guys everyday wouldn’t be good, but Dan Duquette has constructed this team with flexible pitching depth throughout the system. If the Orioles need another starter, they’ve got Jair Jurrjens and Freddy Garcia pitching well for them so far in Triple-A Norfolk. Zach Britton goes tonight for the Tides, I’ll keeping a watchful eye on that start and expect to see him producing in the big leagues at some point this season.

Guys like Daniel McCutchen, Mark Hendrickson and Daniel Schlereth all have big league experience as relief pitchers. They’re not in the Orioles system by coincidence.

Personally, I’d much rather see an O’s starter throw six innings of shutout or one-run ball than see him scatter three or four runs over seven innings. Quality starts are what the O’s are expecting. Stop fretting about pitchers not going the distance, you’ll be pulling your hair out all season.

Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of BaltimoreSportsReport.com and Host of the BSR Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @zamwi or send him an email: zach@baltimoresportsreport.com.

Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of BaltimoreSportsReport.com and host of the BSR Podcast. He's a loyal Orioles, Ravens and Capitals fan who is obsessed with baseball, loves traveling, In-N-Out Burger and Walt Disney World.

14 Comments

  1. Willo

    April 18, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    I agree that the O’s bull pen can/should duplicate what they achieved in 2012. The O’s team is built around a bounty of relief arms that seem to get the job done. Will they have a .230 something team ERA, probably not, will Johnson have 51 saves, probably not but they have a surplus of decent reliefs arms that will get the job done in 2013. Makes you wonder why a franchise does not cast aside convention wisdom and build a pitching staff with ALL relief pitchers. One thing for certain, it would greatly reduce the payroll and for the most part relief pitchers are readily available. Hmmm, maybe I am on to something…an entire major league pitching staff composed entirely of relief pitchers?!

  2. MGW

    April 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Just like this organization uses the entire 40 man roster and then some… Like Zach and Willo said, it’s a new ballgame folks. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

  3. Anvil

    April 19, 2013 at 8:46 am

    I’ll get out of the way because there is some reason for concern. I don’t think we should go overboard because the season is barely underway but if your going to bury your head in the sand, I’ll get out of the way.
    I wouldn’t feel confident putting my hopes on Jurrjens, Garcia, and Britton.I realize the season is a marathon but bullpens do get tired later in the year if they are putting in too many innings.

  4. MGW

    April 19, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Here’s the bottom line, Anvil, Slapshot, whoever you are today…

    The Orioles are changing the dynamics of baseball utlizing an expanded pitching staff and a shuttle between their minor leagues and the majors. They use their entire 40 man roster and adeptly “manage” the disabled list.

    Pointing out the pitching depth in the minors – Jurrjens, Garcia, Britton, Johnson – it’s all part of that plan, my man.

    You are seeing it, but NOT seeing it.

    Hang in there, you’ll get it soon enough. I guess you didn’t see this plan in action last summer, or you just didn’t get it.

    They’re ahead of the curve and I know it’s tough because it’s not 1977 anymore and you’re slow to adapt.

  5. Anvil

    April 19, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    MGW,
    We’ll see how well this plan works out. I see it, I just don’t have faith in it.

  6. O's Suck

    April 19, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Do u realize peeps that your orioles use the 40 man rotation b cause most of their players suck? And then u have 1 guy saying they r starting a nu trend, its their plan. GTFOOH.

    • 9inchnails

      April 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      How many teeth still left in your mouth? Smart money has less than three, more than Mystery Man and Chow combined.

  7. O's Suck

    April 19, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    U da toothless 1 9inchnails thinking the Orioles r making history b cause they suck so bad they r using their entire roster 2 set nu plans like dat other person MGW thinks. Please do not take me as b ing mean 2 u and MGW but u started about my teeth 1st 9inchnail. B cause the Orioles r so bad u make up reasons on y they suck n how the rest of baseball will follow. If i was a gambling person and i am not i would venture a guess dat Mystery Man n Chow think your so called nu trend won’t have all of baseball world following as well. U make me giggle.

    • MGW

      April 20, 2013 at 5:30 pm

      Ladies and gentleman, lets hear it for O’s Suck!

      A real man off the people.

      • Nick

        April 22, 2013 at 12:21 am

        O’s Suck: The Houston Astros if spelling and grammar.

        • Nick

          April 22, 2013 at 12:22 am

          *of. Damn autocorrect.

          • O's Suck

            April 22, 2013 at 6:29 pm

            Nick talks about my spelling n grammar n yet he mispells n has bad grammar. Idiot!

    • 9inchnails

      April 23, 2013 at 11:00 am

      I am glad I make you giggle.

      I bet you a lunch that the O’s win more than they lose this year, if you are still around. Put your money where your mouth is. I am sure there are some nice places to eat in Dundalk.

  8. O's Suck

    April 21, 2013 at 9:45 am

    U r a fountain of wity comebacks MGW. When most people have been called out n have no answer for their comments they then resort 2 stupidity. Thus we have MGW. May b u should start a nu plan like the Orioles.