From the “For what it’s worth ...” department, new Orioles right-hander Andrew Cashner had decent numbers last year and has solid numbers in his career against the American League East. Yes, that comes in a small sample size for a pitcher that spent seven of his first eight seasons in the National League.
But last season for Texas he made five starts against the four AL East teams that are not the Orioles and went 3-1 with an ERA of 2.81 in 32 innings. He was 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in two starts versus Boston. He made a single start each against the other three teams, going 1-0 with an ERA of 1.29 versus the Blue Jays, 0-0 with a 1.29 ERA against the Yankees and 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA versus the Rays.
In eight career starts versus those four teams, Cashner is 3-2 with a 2.82 ERA. Add in a 2.14 ERA in three career starts versus Baltimore and he is 5-3 with a 2.63 ERA in 11 career starts against the division.
Cashner built a strong 2017 season for Texas on an impressive groundball rate (48.6 percent), a low home run rate (0.8 per nine innings) and a solid batting average against of .250 versus all hitters, which works out to .243 against lefty batters and .256 against right-handers.
For those that project his 2017 ERA of 3.40 (which was ninth in the AL) will be worse this season, they can cite his career-low strikeout rate (4.6 per nine) and insist he missed way too few bats. They can cite a low batting average on balls in play of .266 last season. That BABIP for Cashner was .315 in 2016 and is .290 over his career.
If you really want to worry, what about his average against of .170 when pitching with runners in scoring position last year? That led all of the major leagues and when you are first in anything, you can only go down from there. Cashner’s average against with two outs and runners in scoring position was a ridiculous .051 (3-for-59). I don’t know how any pitcher can duplicate that. He likely can’t and if you see regression on the stat sheet, that is one area to look at. His average against when pitching with RISP in 2016 was .259.
Cashner’s ERA in the first five innings of his starts was 2.58. He got a lot of ground balls and could be a fun pitcher to watch the double play duo of Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop play behind. He also came for a very reasonable contract that doesn’t block any prospects and doesn’t hamper anything else the team wants to do payroll-wise this year or in later seasons.
The Cashner deal seems like a good one when you consider the guarantee of just $16 million over two seasons. But he has some reachable innings pitched incentives that should raise that figure as long as stays healthy.
So now what is next for the Orioles? They’ve got three locked in for their rotation. Will there be more signings?