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How important is it if Orioles take a fifth starter?


How important is it if Orioles take a fifth starter?

Everyone knows that the Orioles would like to add another starting pitcher. They know that their starters must pitch better this year than last, but really how many effective starters do they need?

Everyone thinks they need five, but if you look back on recent Orioles history, you’ll find that they rarely, in their most successful years, have had five outstanding starters.

Last year, Ubaldo Jimenez won 12 games, Wei-Yin Chen and Chris Tillman 11 each, Miguel Gonzalez had nine wins, and their fifth leading starter was Kevin Gausman, who had three wins as a starter. Gausman picked up another win in the bullpen.

Chen’s loss to the Miami Marlins is bemoaned, but he was never the team’s No. 1 starter. He never pitched on Opening Day.

Over his four years with the Orioles, Chen won 46 games, three behind Tillman’s 49. Tillman spent the first half of the 2012 season at Norfolk while Chen missed two months in 2013 with an oblique strain.

In 2014 when the Orioles advanced to the American League Championship Series, they had four starters who won 10 or more: Chen (16), Bud Norris (15), Tillman (13) and Gonzalez (10).

Their fifth most winning starter that year? It was Gausman with seven wins. Those seven wins were the most by an Orioles fifth starter since 1993 when Fernando Valenzuela won eight.

Not since 1979 have the Orioles had five starters with 10 or more wins. Even in 1983 when the Orioles last won the World Series, the team didn’t have a fifth starter with 10 or more wins. Dennis Martinez was the fifth leading starter with seven.

While it would be preferable for the Orioles to find an effective starter to go along with Gausman, Gonzalez, Jimenez and Tillman, it’s not mandatory if they each pitch well.

MORE ORIOLES: For Orioles, Rule 5's aren't the exception

In 2012 when the Orioles advanced to the postseason for the first time in 15 years, they had only one pitcher — Chen — with 10 or more wins. Their fifth leading starter that year was Brian Matusz, who won five games before he was sent to Norfolk and later converted to a successful reliever.

If the Orioles don’t add another potential starter to the mix, Vance Worley is a likely candidate. Worley won 11 games as part of a much publicized Philadelphia Phillies rotation in 2009.

But even that year, Worley was the fourth leading winner. Roy Oswalt, who won 163 games in a terrific career, had just nine wins.

Last year’s World Series winners, the Kansas City Royals had only three pitchers who had 10 or more wins as starters.

The St. Louis Cardinals had five starters that won 10 regular season games, but they lost the Division Series in four games to the Chicago Cubs.

Of course, the Royals had a terrific bullpen, and one of their starters, Chris Young, won three of his 11 games in relief.

But, the Orioles have an outstanding bullpen, too. Matusz, Brad Brach, Zach Britton, Mychal Givens and Darren O’Day will have to take on a huge load.

If the starters are effective, the Orioles can contend. If they’re not, the exemplary bullpen can’t save them. No matter if there’s a capable fifth starter or not.

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Orioles bats stay silent against Cleveland

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Orioles bats stay silent against Cleveland

BALTIMORE -- Mike Clevenger pitched a two-hitter in his first career complete game, and the Cleveland Indians hit three solo homers off Chris Tillman in a 4-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.

Jose Ramirez went 3 for 4 with his team-leading fifth home run. Yan Gomes and Yonder Alonso also went deep for Cleveland, which came into the game ranked second-to-last in the AL in runs and last in batting average.

Clevenger (2-0) hardly needed the offensive support. Pitching on seven days' rest, the right-hander struck out three, walked two and allowed only one runner past first base.

The only two hits he allowed were singles by Manny Machado in the fourth inning and Chance Sisco in the fifth.

It was Clevenger's 35th career start. His previous longest outing was 7 1/3 innings, earlier this month against Kansas City.

While Clevenger is unbeaten in 11 starts since July 31, Tillman has experienced an opposite fate. This was his 22nd straight start without a victory, dating back to his first outing last season.

Tillman (0-4) gave up four runs, eight hits and a walk in six innings. The three home runs were one more than he yielded in his first three starts this season.

Michael Brantley hit a run-scoring groundout in the first inning and Gomes connected in the fourth for a 2-0 lead.

The Orioles put runners on the corners with one out in the fourth, their lone threat against Clevenger, who responded by retiring Tim Beckham on a short fly to left and getting Anthony Santander to ground out.

Ramirez led off the sixth with a drive to left, and Alonso hit a two-out shot that landed on Eutaw Street beyond the right-field scoreboard.

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Orioles pitching falls apart as Tigers complete sweep in Detroit

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Orioles pitching falls apart as Tigers complete sweep in Detroit

DETROIT - Leonys Martin hit his first big league grand slam, Jeimer Candelario had four hits and three RBIs, and the Detroit Tigers beat Baltimore 13-8 Thursday to extend the Orioles' losing streak to six.

Jordan Zimmermann (1-0) gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, allowing two home runs to Manny Machado and one to Chris Davis. Zimmermann was pitching for the first time since being hit in the jaw by a line drove off the bat of Cleveland's Jason Kipnis on April 11.

Alex Cobb (0-2) made his second start after signing a $57 million, four-year contract in spring training and his ERA rose to 15.43. He allowed seven runs - five earned - and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Machado had four RBIs for the Orioles, who were outhit 18-14 in the game and outscored 23-15 in the three-game sweep.

Victor Martinez hit an RBI single in the first, but Davis put Baltimore ahead with a two-run homer in the second, his sixth hit and fourth homer in 10 career at-bats against Zimmermann.

Detroit went ahead for good with four runs in the bottom half after third baseman Tim Beckham's throwing error allowed James McCann to reach base leading off. Jose Iglesias hit a two-run triple, Miguel Cabrera had an RBI single and Nick Castellanos a run-scoring groundout.

Machado's homer in the third cut Baltimore's deficit to 5-2, but Candelario's two-run homer extended the lead to 7-2 in the bottom half. Martin homered off Mike Wright Jr. in a five-run fifth.