Still talking free agent pitchers, plus other notes

If a pitcher that tied for the National League lead in losses and who has had two Tommy John procedures doesn’t sound like he could help the 2018 Orioles, then right-hander Tyler Chatwood is not for you. But when a national reporter said the Orioles have interest this week, the season for rumors officially began.

The Orioles will no doubt be linked to many free agent starters over the next several weeks. Simple math tells us that. They have two starters set for their 2018 rotation and you need five - at least five.

Chatwood, who will be 28 on opening day, went 8-15 with a 4.69 ERA for Colorado. But before you rule him out, he has been a different pitcher in his career away from Coors Field.

Last year, he went 3-8 with a 6.01 ERA and .302 average against at home. On the road, he was 5-7 with a 3.49 ERA and .200 average against. For his career, he has a 5.25 ERA with a 1.14 homers/nine innings at home and an ERA of 3.31 with 0.71 homers/nine on the road. If he could produce numbers like that over 162 games, he would be a nice addition for any team. His road ERA the last two years is 2.57, which ranks fifth in the NL.

A second-round pick of the Angels in 2008, Chatwood was pulled from the Rockies rotation save for one start between July 26 and Sept. 2. But he returned to the rotation late in the year and went 2-2 with a 2.92 ERA over his last five starts.

Chatwood had Tommy John surgery in high school at 16. He also had the procedure in July 2014 and missed all of the 2015 season. His walk rate is a concern. He averaged 4.7 walks per nine innings last year and has a career 4.2 walk rate.

Judged to be second this time: He was the American League Rookie of the Year, but finished a distant second in voting for the AL MVP. The Yankees’ Aaron Judge got just two first-place votes for the MVP honor announced last night, while winner Jose Altuve of Houston got 27.

The O’s pitching staff did its part to get Judge honored, although I’m sure they didn’t do so willingly. In 19 games versus the Orioles, Judge hit .426/.588/1.049 with five doubles, 11 homers, 24 RBIs, 31 runs and a 1.637 OPS. Yep, he torched O’s pitchers, who had the worst time keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate against him.

But in the playoffs, teams like Houston and Cleveland had success getting Judge out. In the American League Division Series versus Cleveland, Judge went 1-for-20 and struck out 16 times. He hit .188 in the playoffs overall with 27 strikeouts in 48 at-bats. In the postseason, Judge struggled to hit down and away breaking balls.

Boston pitchers got Judge out this year, as he hit just .151 with a .556 OPS and 30 strikeouts in 88 plate appearances. Judge hit better against Tampa Bay, with an average of .219 and an .866 OPS. He crushed Toronto pitchers as he did the O’s hurlers. He hit .359 with an OPS of 1.378, 10 homers and 20 RBIs in 18 games versus the Blue Jays.

Schoop-Swings-White-Sidebar.jpgMeanwhile, the Orioles’ Jonathan Schoop finished 12th in the AL MVP vote, getting two sixth-place votes, two for eighth and three for 10th place in the balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Last year, two Orioles finished in the top 12 with Manny Machado fifth and Zach Britton 11th.

Schoop batted .293/.338/.503 with 35 doubles and a career-high 32 home runs and 105 RBIs in 160 games. He ranked sixth in the AL in RBIs and hits (182) and tied for fourth in multi-hit games (53). His 67 extra-base hits were tied for 12th-most in the league.

Honoring Fred: He is now a former Orioles broadcaster, but, of course, Fred Manfra is still loved by fans in Baltimore and all over Birdland. On Wednesday night, he was honored by the Sportsboosters of Maryland at their Headliner Awards banquet.

The banquet had a heavy Oriole presence and featured manager Buck Showalter and catcher Caleb Joseph. Also in attendance were Jim Palmer, Mike Bordick, Scott McGregor, Ross Grimsley, Tippy Martinez and Ken Singleton.

It was a wonderful event that I was honored to attend to have another chance to show Fred what he meant to us. The kid from Patterson High did all right.

The Sportsboosters put on a first-class event and they continue to do great work in the Baltimore community. They have raised money for youth sports organizations since 1950.

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