Thursday, May 9, 2013
If the O's chase an ace
By Jason A. Churchill
We're just five weeks into the 2013 season, but it's enough time to start gauging the performance of players, units or entire rosters. In Baltimore, the AL East leader (tie) at 21-13 entering play Thursday, have put up solid numbers across the board, ranking No. 3 in the circuit in runs scored and in the middle of the pack in terms of earned run average. There is a disparity, however, in how the Birds have posted their No. 7 team ERA of 3.83.
The Orioles' relief corps has been tremendous, posting a 2.73 ERA of their own, the third-best mark in the AL, and leading the league with 14 saves. The starting rotation, however, can be considered somewhat mediocre, ranking No. 9 with a 4.42 ERA and the second-worst strikeouts-per-nine mark. If the club is to add a significant piece to the puzzle before the July 31 trade deadline, starting pitching may GM Dan Duquette's main target.
The club possesses a numbers of quality arms, but they do lack the staff ace type, suggesting that if Cliff Lee, a healthy Josh Johnson or A.J. Burnett were to become available, Baltimore could be among the more motivated clubs.
Top prospect Dylan Bundy does not appear to be a candidate at this stage, as he rests a sore elbow that undoubtedly has the organization nervous. We've discussed the possibility that Kevin Gausman could help at some point, but even if we assume he'll be ready to do so, the Orioles' need for a true No. 1 starter for the stretch run will remain.
A worthy mention that may further support such an addition for the Orioles is that playoff successes generally have legitimate top-end starting pitching. The Giants have ridden the arms of Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner to titles in two of the last three seasons. The Cardinals have had tons of recent success thanks to Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. The Detroit Tigers have made a lot of October noise the past few seasons thanks in large part to their starting pitching. Lee would look awfully good atop the Orioles' rotation in a series versus the Rangers or Yankees in the fall. Wouldn't he?