Orioles’ young pitchers are struggling once again

It is a question that has dogged the Orioles organization for years and still does to this day: Why can’t the Orioles develop young pitchers?

Among Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, Zach Britton and Chris Tillman, it seems Tillman is currently the most promising of the four - and he was at Triple-A for most of this year.

Arrieta is 26, but his ERA has gone from 4.66 in 2010 to 5.05 last year and now is 6.13. That is going the wrong way and Arrieta is now back at Triple-A. I remember how well he pitched opening day and that scouts then were comparing his curveball to Bert Blyleven’s.

Matusz is 25. He had an ERA of 4.30 in 2010 and ended the season pitching to an ERA of 1.57 over his last eight starts. This year, he is 5-10 with an ERA of 5.42 and is back in Triple-A. That is going the wrong way.

Britton is 24. Last year, after his first nine starts, he was 5-2 with an ERA of 2.14. Now, over four big league starts in 2012, he is 1-1 with an ERA of 8.35. That is going the wrong way.

The Orioles’ young pitchers are mostly going the wrong way. What the heck is going on here? Why is this happening? What is the club doing wrong and how can this get fixed?

As usual, with O’s young pitchers, there are many questions and few answers. It has become a constant frustration for fans and players alike, I’m sure - not to mention the big league and minor league coaches and the front office.

The Orioles have done an amazing job to hang in the playoff race with few consistent contributions from the not-yet-nearly-fab foursome. Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen have been huge acquisitions for the Orioles. Makes you wonder what the team could accomplish if one or two of the young group would take that step forward and live up to the hype.

Hosting a radio show each night on 105.7 FM The Fan in Baltimore, I hear about as many opinions on this as anyone in town. The fans seem divided. Some just don’t think this group is very good and want to cut bait. Others are very patient and say that patience is the key and will eventually lead to them seeing some of this group turn into solid pitchers in the rotation.

Speaking on the wait for the young pitchers to turn the corner, Buck Showalter has said that because it’s delayed doesn’t mean it’s denied. But how long are we going to have to wait?

Have pitching coaches tinkered too much with this group and tried to make too many adjustments? Do these guys not trust their stuff? Again, plenty of questions and not many answers.

Britton has now made 32 career starts, Tillman 41, Arrieta 58 and Matusz 68. Shouldn’t the growing pains be over by now?

At this point, it would be nice to see an O’s young pitcher - any pitcher - come up from the minors and be able to deliver a consistently solid performance. The bouncing back between Triple-A and the majors all the time can’t be good for these guys.

During a season that has been, on the whole, pretty amazing, the development of this group has been less that that. Once again, O’s fans find themselves frustrated and with more questions than answers when it comes to their young starting pitchers.

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