LOS ANGELES—If you’ve stayed up late during the Orioles’ increasingly challenging West Coast road trip, you’ve seen something disturbing.
Not only have the Orioles not been winning during this season-long five-game losing streak, but they haven’t been getting the starting pitching they need to even be truly competitive.
The terrific offense carried them for the last four games of their seven-game winning streak, but it hasn’t been enough during these five games.
In only two games on the first seven games of this trip has a starter been able to pitch even six innings, and the Orioles haven’t gotten a starter even into the seventh inning since Kevin Gausman pitched 7 2/3 on June 25, and that’s 10 games ago.
In the first 82 games of the Orioles season, starters have worked six innings just 38 times.
Only three of their starters, Gausman, Chris Tillman and Tyler Wilson have completed more than half of their starts.
Tillman, who starts Tuesday night has finished six innings in 10 of his 17 starts—including eight straight. In Tillman’s last three starts, he’s given up 14 runs on 21 hits in just 14 2/3 innings.
While his 10-2 record is impressive, Tillman has recorded an out in the eighth inning just once in those 17 starts.
Tillman’s June 8th start of 7 1/3 is one of only five times an Orioles starter has pitched that long.
Gausman pitched 7 2/3 on June 25 and 8 innings on May 5. Wilson and Ubaldo Jimenez each had an eight-inning start. No starter has made it to the ninth.
Five starts of more than seven innings in 82 games isn’t acceptable, at least not for a team that’s still in first place.
Manager Buck Showalter is insistent on not having his relievers pitch often. He proudly points out that his most used relievers aren’t in the American League’s top 10 in appearances.
Brad Brach whose 36 games leads the team is six behind Texas Sam Dyson who has been in 42 games.
Since Showalter became Orioles manager in Aug. 2010, only one pitcher, Jim Johnson has thrown more than 90 innings in a season (91 in 2011).
Brach has thrown 44 2/3 innings in just over half the games, and while Showalter might like to pitch him more—especially with his sparkling 1.01 ERA—he won’t.
The short starts are making it difficult for Showalter to manage his bullpen, particularly without Darren O’Day who has missed five weeks with a strained hamstring.
“We are really having to pitch people in situations where their best skills are not really suited for that situation,” Showalter said after Monday night’s game.
That was a game where Yovani Gallardo pitched just four innings and threw 95 pitches.
If the Orioles want to talk about playing beyond Oct. 2, some longer starts—many longer starts—are going to be needed from pitchers already here—or acquired from elsewhere.
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