A lot has been made in recent weeks of the Orioles’ inability to develop quality starting pitching. Jake Arrieta, once a prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, authored his second career no-hitter in late April. The O’s however, tired of Arrieta’s inconsistency and sent him with Pedro Strop to the Cubs in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman in a trade they would quickly regret. Other top pitching prospects to reach their full potential as starters include Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, and Zach Britton.
Britton said last month that the reason the young pitchers struggled as starters is because “They took away the individual approach to everything.” He continued, “Things we did extremely well in the minor leagues to get to the big leagues – we were told that just doesn’t work here. And you’re like, ‘That’s kind of weird, right?’ You don’t just reinvent yourself in the big leagues. That was the struggle. And the struggle, as we got older, was trying to get back to what made us what we were before.” Britton implied that then-pitching coach Rick Adair was the one interfering.
The Orioles’ coaching staff has changed since Britton was a prospect, but the club has still yet to develop a bona fide starter. Tillman, who posted a 4.99 ERA last year, is the #1 by default, but he’d be a #3 or lower in many other rotations. Dylan Bundy has battled myriad injuries and Hunter Harvey has had a similar fate.
Kevin Gausman, on the other hand, has started off the 2016 season quite well. In three starts, the right-hander has allowed four runs (three earned) on 10 hits and three walks with 14 strikeouts in 19 innings. Rate-wise, that’s a 1.42 ERA with a 20 percent strikeout rate and a 4.3 percent walk rate. Gausman had been sidelined since mid-March due to a shoulder problem, but he has appeared to put that problem in the rear-view mirror. It’s a lot to ask of Gausman to become the Orioles pitching prospect who finally lives up to the hype, but considering how well he pitched at times last year and how he’s started this year, it wouldn’t be surprising if he does.
Gausman takes on the Twins’ Jose Berrios at Target Field in an 8:10 PM EDT match-up tonight.
The rest of Tuesday’s action…
Oakland Athletics (Sean Manaea) @ Boston Red Sox (Sean O’Sullivan), 7:10 PM EDT
San Diego Padres (Cesar Vargas) @ Chicago Cubs (Jon Lester), 8:05 PM EDT