A pitcher’s win total isn’t supposed to matter, though it usually does to the pitcher. But Alex Cobb must be wondering what it’s going to take for him to get a victory at Camden Yards.
Since joining the Orioles in March 2018, Cobb has gone 0-11 with a 5.29 ERA in 18 starts in Baltimore.
He’s allowed 57 earned runs in 97 innings. And he’s lost all 11 of his decisions. Because the baseball gods don’t care about your feelings and an ERA above 5.00 can be just as unforgiving.
Cobb posted a 4.05 ERA in five games this season at Camden Yards and held opponents to a .231 average. He was 0-3.
The Marlins were rationed to one run and two hits in five innings in the first game of an Aug. 5 doubleheader, but the Orioles lost 1-0. Cobb held the Rays to two runs over six innings in a 2-1 loss on Sept. 18.
A quality start that left him with another defeat.
Cobb is entering the final season of his four-year, $57 million deal, so he’s running out of chances.
* All five Orioles who made their major league debuts in 2020 will retain their rookie status next season - pitchers Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer and Bruce Zimmermann, outfielder/first baseman Ryan Mountcastle and infielder Ramón Urías. Only one of them didn’t allow a hit to a left-handed batter in his first two games.
That narrows it down to the pitchers. But which one?
Left-handers went 0-for-13 against Kremer in two starts and were 3-for-27 with eight strikeouts through the third outing. Kremer held them to a .152 average (5-for-33) after facing the Red Sox in his final start.
Right-handed hitters posted a .179 average (5-for-28) with 12 strikeouts against Kremer through his first three starts. Five right-handed hitters collected hits in his last appearance to increase the average to .270 (10-for-37).
Kremer didn’t allow a run in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and held opponents to a .087 average (2-for-23) with seven strikeouts.
* The seventh was heaven for the Orioles.
Their pitchers allowed only 10 earned runs (11 total) in the seventh inning for a measly 1.61 ERA - the fewest runs in the majors. The Dodgers and Mets were the closest with 18.
Meanwhile, the offense churned out 32 runs in the seventh inning for the seventh-highest total in the American League and 13th in the majors.
* The Orioles led the majors with a .409 average on the first pitch of a plate appearance and ranked second in the American League and fifth in the majors with a 1.089 OPS. They also were tied for seventh in the majors with 33 extra-base hits.
They ranked second in the league and fourth in the majors with 20 doubles on the first pitch and tied for the league lead with 90 hits.
* If Jorge López is in the Orioles’ rotation next season, they might want to find a way for him to skip the fifth inning.
López, a waiver claim from the Royals, registered a 16.50 ERA in the fifth with 11 earned runs in six innings. His highest mark of any inning.
In his career, Lόpez has posted an 8.07 ERA in the fifth with 26 earned runs in 29 innings over 32 games. Also his highest ERA of any inning.
It wasn’t a fluke in 2020.
* Thomas Eshelman could stay with the Orioles as starter insurance. A long reliever/swingman type needed in every bullpen.
Eshelman made six appearances in August, including two starts, and registered a 2.75 ERA with six earned runs in 19 2/3 innings and a 0.763 WHIP. Opponents batted .182 (12-for-66) against him.
But Eshelman also made six appearances in September, including two starts, and registered a 5.40 ERA with nine earned runs in 15 innings and a 1.867 WHIP. Opponents batted .338 (22-for-65) against him.
The Orioles were dragged down by September slumps on the pitching staff and in the lineup.
* Which right-hander made the most appearances for the Orioles?
Would you believe Travis Lakins Sr.?
Lakins pitched in 22 games and tied Eshelman for the team lead with three wins. An impressive accomplishment for a reliever who had to earn a roster spot in spring training and summer training camp.
In the world of reverse-splits guys, Lakins took his seat at the table by holding left-handed hitters to a .133 average (4-for-30) while right-handers batted .300 (21-for-70).
There was room for other improvements.
Lakins walked 13 batters in his final 14 games after not issuing a walk over his first eight. Also, 10 of 15 inherited runners scored.
Opponents hit .246 (14-for-57) with runners on base and .250 (10-for-40) with runners in scoring position, but were 0-for-15 with RISP and two outs.