Bud Norris wasn’t bad this year. Well, not for long stretches, anyway. He was solidly average, actually. He was a prototypical #4 or #5 pitcher. And that’s a good thing.
Thankfully for the O’s, that’s all they needed Bud Norris to be this year. Because there was a time, not so long ago, where the 105 ERA+ that Bud Norris posted this year would have led the team. And that time was just in 2011, when that 105 ERA+ would have not just led the team, but led it by eight points. Yikes.
Norris arrived in Baltimore in July 2013 in exchange for the Orioles sending L.J. Hoes and Josh Hader to Houston. After a thoroughly pedestrian second half in 2013, Norris found his place in the rotation in the 2014 season. He had a sub-3.50 ERA after the All-Star Break, posted a 7-2 record (yeah, I know, pitcher wins and all) and allowed a .244 BAA. And I’m sure he led the team in pointing at fly balls.
The pinnacle of Bud Norris’ season was the 6.1 IP effort against Detroit in the ALDS Game 3. He went into the 7th unscored upon, and left after retiring a batter and 100 pitches. He had six strikeouts against two walks and two hits. In winning his game after being moved up to pitch on Sunday instead of Monday for Game 4, Bud's start ended the Tigers season.
One more note about Bud’s 2014. He was sent down during the All-Star Break to make a start and buy the team a roster spot for 10 days. He did so without complaint, came back up a few weeks after the ASG and had a better second half than first half. Why compliment a player on simply doing what he’s told? Because Bud Norris was exactly one day shy of vesting his rights to refuse the demotion. One day. And he knew that the club knew. They were using literally the last day they could to force him to report to the minors and squeeze out a roster spot for a few games. And Bud Norris went down, pitched, and came back up and never mentioned it until asked by a reporter months later.
On good baseball teams, Bud Norris is the kind of pitcher you have taking the mound on the 4th or 5th game of the season. In a nearly perfect world, he’s the guy that beats the third different Cy Young award winner a team throws at your team. And that’s what Bud Norris did this year. And that’s a good thing.