There is no doubt about the importance of pitching. The Orioles are 42-88 and a lack of quality pitching has been a big reason for that. But there are a few stats that show us that even a team with a record like the Orioles’ won-loss mark can do well when it gets some solid pitching.
First, the overall numbers.
With a team ERA of 5.84 through Sunday’s games, the Orioles ranked 15th and last in the American League and 30th in Major League Baseball. Their rotation ERA of 5.72 ranks 15th in the AL and 29th in MLB, ahead of only Colorado. The bullpen ERA is 5.98 to rank 15th in the AL and 30th in MLB.
Now some striking and surprising numbers.
The Orioles have a winning record when they get a quality start - defined as six innings or more and allowing three or fewer earned runs. The Birds are 19-12 in those games. A team playing that kind of ball over 162 games would win 99.
According to Stats Inc., the Orioles rank 12th in the AL with a .613 win percentage when they get a quality start. The average win percentage in the AL this year with a quality start is .699.
So maybe once and for all the time has come to not discount the quality start as “just a 4.50 ERA.” Yes it is if the starter posts those exact numbers, but often they are better and clearly teams winning seven of 10 with a quality start tells us a lot. It’s significant to get one.
The Orioles are 12-1 in their last 13 quality starts. They just need more of them. They’ve gotten the QS just four times in their past 28 games.
Surprise No. 2: The Orioles win percentage when their starting pitcher goes seven innings or more is second-best in the AL at .909 (10-1). The Yankees lead the AL at .917 (11-1). So neither team has a lot of such games. But both play well above the AL league average, per Stats Inc., of .717, when getting a start of seven innings or more. Again the Orioles, with a winning percentage of .328, are 10-1 when they get a seven-inning start.
And while the Orioles lead the majors allowing 262 home runs, they have played .739 ball (17-6) when they haven’t allowed a home run. That ranks ninth in the AL in win percentage when allowing no homers and the AL average win percentage in such games is .721.
All of this is strong evidence to support what we already knew that it starts with starting pitching and the Orioles don’t have nearly enough of it yet.
But it also shows that even a team with the second-worst record in the majors can play good baseball with solid starting pitching.
On the farm: Congratulations to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Orioles. They clinched first place on Saturday to become the second O’s affiliate to qualify for the postseason following Single-A Delmarva.
The GCL O’s won again Monday afternoon to improve to 37-14 (.725) and they have the best win percentage of any O’s affiliate. Their first-year manager is former O’s pitcher and bullpen coach Alan Mills. Last season the O’s finished 13-42 in the GCL. Four teams make the playoffs in that league but it goes fast. The semi-final round is a one-game series and the finals is best two-of-three.
The race for playoff spots in the short-season Single-A New York-Penn League, involving the Aberdeen IronBirds, is rather wild. The IronBirds beat Lowell 5-1 on the road last night as Andrew Fregia hit a three-run homer. With seven games to play, Aberdeen is 39-29 and in a three-way tie for first with Hudson Valley and Brooklyn, who are also 39-29. Those same three teams are tied for the wild card lead. So Aberdeen has two cracks at a playoff spot here and guess which teams they play starting Wednesday in their final six games? Yep, Brooklyn and Hudson Valley.
Double-A Bowie lost 4-2 at Reading, but stayed tied for first in the West in the Eastern League second-half race at 43-22 as Erie also lost. Losing pitcher Cody Sedlock allowed three runs over four innings.
Cameron Bishop threw a strong game as Single-A Frederick beat Down East 4-1. He allowed one run in a career-high eight innings to improve to 2-9 with a 4.56 ERA.
The top two batters in the lineup for Triple-A Norfolk combined for 10 RBIs in the Tides’ 17-7 win at Gwinnett. Rylan Bannon went 3-for-5 with two doubles and five RBIs. He’s batting .358 in his first 13 Triple-A games. Dwight Smith Jr. went 2-for-6 with a homer and also drove in five runs. The Tides are 15-8 this month.
And last, but certainly not least, in Single-A Delmarva’s 5-4 loss to Lakewood, Shorebirds pitchers fanned 12. That gives Delmarva 1,307 strikeouts for the season to set a South Atlantic League record. Pretty impressive.
Probably a good time to revist this story about Delmarva’s pitching posted here yesterday.
These guys are turning heads! Historic accomplishment https://t.co/JaQqXJTHtq-- Mike Elias (@MElias) August 27, 2019