With the trade deadline set for next Tuesday, the Orioles are no doubt checking in on the pitching market. For what it is worth, the pitching staff may be in better shape than some think and yet as they say, you can never have enough pitching.
But for a team that plays .750 ball this year when it gets a quality start, it has been happening with much greater frequency since early June for the Orioles.
In the team’s first 62 games this year, the Orioles got a quality start just 29.0 percent of the time, going 18-for-62 with a rotation ERA of 4.86 in the 62 games.
In the last 40 games, even after Kyle Bradish allowed five runs Wednesday, the Orioles have gotten a QS 55.0 percent, going 22-for-40 with a rotation ERA of 4.02.
It is a nice trend up and again the Orioles are 30-10 this year in their 40 quality starts. Where once the O’s were in the bottom third of the AL in quality starts, now just five teams have more.
And before someone inevitably says that a quality start is a 4.50 ERA (three earned runs in six innings) that is the minimum standard. Using Kyle Gibson as one example, his ERA for the year is 4.68. But in his 10 quality starts, it is 2.54. Pitchers throwing a lot of quality starts have solid ERAs in most of those games and keep their team in the game. And the Orioles win a big number of those games.
Gibson, by the way, went through a three-start run where he gave up 15 runs nearing the All-Star break. And now he has thrown a quality start in three of his past four games.
There may be some concern among Birdland about Tyler Wells and two straight short outings of a combined 6 1/3 innings. Yes, he has now passed last year’s innings total, but for me not by enough to be a concern yet. Before these two games, Wells had a 2.83 ERA in a seven-start stretch. He was rolling.
I say it’s more likely that a nine-day rest around the All-Star break broke a strong rhythm he had going, but the team made a decision to get him more rest with the season innings total in mind. I see him getting back on track and real soon. Others will pass their 2022 innings totals this year and Grayson Rodriguez already has.
So, one reason to add a starting pitcher is the innings factor. Another is simply if you can upgrade, you should consider it. But I think the QS trend shows us this rotation has been pretty solid for a 40-game stretch.
Most bullpens can use another arm or two and this one is no different. But the addition of Shintaro Fujinami could prove very big. His outing Tuesday, six up and down at Philly, was eye opening. A fastball touching 100 and a split averaging 93 mph.
It's a devastating one-two punch and he looked like a pitcher that could become a dependable seventh and/or eighth inning guy. The spin rates on the few cutters and sweepers he threw in that outing were very different from his season rates on those pitches. Have the O’s already done some tinkering here with Fuji that make those pitches bigger factors for him going forward? Maybe but just as a two-pitch guy he looks like a great addition that is now feeling more comfortable in a Baltimore uniform.
The Orioles did not yield a lot of runs during the 4-3 road trip, but we saw leads get away at Philadelphia. The pitching is better than it was earlier in the year, but additions still could be big for this team down the stretch.
In the next few days we will find out if the Orioles are able to make them, in what direction they will look and how far they are willing to go to do it.