For Orioles and plenty of other teams, pursuit of an ace pitcher continues

It has been a postseason of stunning pitching. We’ve seen low-scoring games featuring dominant starting pitching. Aces have pitched like aces and some youngsters have burst on the scene showing their stuff and vast potential.

So far in the playoffs:

* Clayton Kershaw is 1-1 with a 0.47 ERA.
* Justin Verlander is 1-0 with a 0.39 ERA.
* Max Scherzer is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA.
* Jon Lester is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA.
* Adam Wainwright is 2-1 with a 1.57 ERA.
* Michael Wacha is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA.
* Gerrit Cole was 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA.

Six of the seven pitchers mentioned above were drafted in the first round. Cole was the first overall pick in 2011 and Verlander was drafted second overall in 2004. Five of the seven were drafted and developed by their current teams. Two were acquired in trades, with Detroit dealing for Scherzer as part of a three-team trade and St. Louis acquiring Wainwright from Atlanta.

Guess what this all means for the Orioles? It means they need to improve their starting pitching and that their pursuit of an ace - or at the least, top-of-the-rotation pitching - continues.

Yeah, who wouldn’t want a No. 1 starter like Verlander or Kershaw? But how to get one or develop one is the issue.

By the way, the top four pitching staffs in the American League this year in starting rotation ERA were Detroit, Oakland, Tampa Bay and Boston. Guess which were the final four clubs in the AL playoffs?

In the National League, the top five were Los Angeles, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Atlanta. Yes, those were the five NL playoff teams and the top two are still playing.

The Orioles posted a starting rotation ERA this year of 4.57. Detroit was at 3.44 and Boston at 3.84. The AL average is 4.15. The O’s have some ground to make up.

Do the O’s have a future ace or top-of-the-rotation pitcher currently in the organization? Will it be Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman? How about Hunter Harvey in a few years? Will Eduardo Rodriguez be that guy?

Can Chris Tillman take his game to an even higher level and become a true No. 1? Verlander didn’t produce an ERA under 3.37 until 2011 when he was 28. Tillman is 25 now.

The Orioles made the 2012 playoffs without a true ace or No. 1, but their starters were pitching at a very high level in the last two months of that season. Buck Showalter has said the O’s need to pitch better. So do their current pitchers pitch better or do they get better pitchers?

David Price could be on the trade market this winter. I have a hard time even considering that Tampa Bay would trade him within the division and that, if the Rays did, the O’s would have enough to get him - and would be willing to do it.

Every team wants an ace, but there are not many in the game. The Orioles should not stop trying to get one, but is it more likely to happen with a home-grown pitcher or an acquisition?

The odds to get one are long, but as this October is proving again, the pursuit should never stop.

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