The guy with the long name looks for longer stay in O’s rotation

He made 16 starts for the 2019 Orioles and it probably took some of us most of that time to learn how to spell his name, but right-hander Asher Wojciechowski could emerge in the O’s rotation again next season.

At this point he’s probably among a top four in some order that also includes John Means, Dylan Bundy and Alex Cobb. Wojciechowski went 4-8 with a 4.92 ERA last season. Over 82 1/3 innings he allowed 80 hits, including 17 homers. He walked 28 batters and got 80 strikeouts. He allowed 8.7 hits per nine innings with 1.9 homers and 3.1 walks, and recorded 8.7 strikeouts. Wojciechowski had a 1.312 WHIP.

Wojciechowski-Winds-Up-White-Sidebar.jpgHe posted respectable numbers and showed a slider that was plus at times, and even dominant some days in small stretches. Not yet even arbitration-eligible, Wojciechowski certainly seems worthy of another look by the rotation-challenged Orioles.

They need some hurlers to eat innings while they wait on young pitchers such as Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer and Bruce Zimmermann, who had Triple-A time last year and were standouts in 2019 at Double-A Bowie.

The Orioles acquired Wojciechowski on July 1 from Cleveland for cash considerations. He made 15 starts for Cleveland’s Triple-A team, but all his outings in the O’s organization came in the majors.

He was also in the O’s organization in 2018 and pitched at Triple-A Norfolk. That July he took an opt-out and got his release. But he returned last summer and started for Baltimore one day after the Orioles acquired him back.

During last season, Wojciechowski told me he has a real comfort level with the Orioles, having been in the organization in 2018.

“It’s kind of strange that I played with this team last year, being in big league camp and then pitching at Norfolk for half the season,” he said. “Then getting traded back over in the middle of this season is kind of a crazy experience. But I came in and I know 75 percent of the guys here that I played with last year. Almost as if I never left without being here.

“It’s a good group of guys here. I’ve been with eight organizations and walked into some clubhouses and didn’t know a single person. Knowing a lot of the guys here makes you more comfortable and you can be yourself and reach your full potential. It’s big to have that comfort level.”

He went 2-5 with a 4.44 ERA and .223 average against when facing an American League East team. In his three starts against Boston, he went 2-1 with a 1.02 ERA while holding the Red Sox to a .167 (10-for-60) clip. That 1.02 ERA is the lowest in the majors among pitchers with a minimum of three starts against Boston since Tampa Bay’s Drew Smyly posted an 0.49 ERA in 2015.

The Orioles were actually Wojciechowski’s sixth organization when they first added him, following time with Toronto, Miami, Houston, Arizona and Cincinnati. After he left the Orioles in 2018, he played with the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland.

What keeps him going after all that?

“Honestly, I think it’s my love for the game,” he said. “I love to play baseball. It gets tough when you change organizations and each time you think that will be the one and you’ll have a long career. But, you know, as long as I am able to play this game at the highest level and still love the game, I’m going to keep on doing it.”

That’s a good attitude for the pitcher with the longest last name in club history. Wojciechowski is 13 letters. Arnie Portocarrero’s surname, at 12 letters, had been the previous longest.

Will Wojciechowski be a key member of the 2020 rotation?

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