clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Orioles starting pitchers are really struggling late in games, should that lead to a change in strategy?

New, 2 comments

Throwing pitches is a lot of work. In 2015, it has seemed like too much work for the Orioles staff. How bad is it?

Elsa/Getty Images

Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez seemed to be cruising after throwing six innings of one-run baseball in last night's 5-2 loss to the Houston Astros. However, after allowing a lead-off single in the top of the seventh inning, Jimenez was lifted from the game by manager Buck Showalter after just 91 pitches. The decision can easily be second-guessed now that we know Brad Brach was awful out of the 'pen, but maybe Showalter was looking at the numbers that show how bad his starters have been late in games.

Get ready for charts on charts on charts! WOO!!

According to MLB.com, heading into yesterday's slate of games, the O's had an ERA of 3.69 through their first 75 pitches. But after that 75th pitch, the staff's ERA spikes to 5.55, third worst in the majors. The following chart shows a more precise breakdown of the rotation as a whole:

Number of pitches ERA (MLB Rank)
1-15 3.57 (17th)
16-30 4.05 (13th)
31-45 2.88 (6th)
46-60 3.91 (12th)
61-75 4.79 (25th)
76-90 5.23 (25th)
91-105 5.28 (25th)
106-120 16.20 (29th)

It's not at all surprising to see those numbers increase as the game goes on. Pitchers get tired and it gets to the point where the same batters have now seen you two or three times, but some of those ERAs are pretty darn beefy.

Here it is broken down by each pitcher where each column is the number of pitches thrown:

Gonzalez

1-15 16-30 31-45 46-60 61-75 76-90 91-105 106-120
ERA 6.48 8.59 0.00 3.09 5.91 2.89 0.00 0.00
BAA .343 .313 .147 .186 .147 .243 .143 .000

Chen

1-15 16-30 31-45 46-60 61-75 76-90 91-105 106-120
ERA 5.40 4.76 1.86 2.79 3.12 2.89 2.25 0.00
BAA .290 .268 .194 .317 .294 .188 .143 .000

Tillman

1-15 16-30 31-45 46-60 61-75 76-90 91-105 106-120
ERA 7.45 0.87 5.87 5.14 4.50 8.59 16.20 0.00
BAA .273 .167 .241 .407 .207 .367 .450 .000

Jimenez

1-15 16-30 31-45 46-60 61-75 76-90 91-105 106-120
ERA 2.79 0.84 1.86 0.90 5.14 7.56 7.71 0.00
BAA .194 .189 .171 .211 .333 .313 .300 .000

Norris

1-15 16-30 31-45 46-60 61-75 76-90 91-105 106-120
ERA 14.73 5.40 9.00 10.13 10.80 6.75 0.00 --
BAA .375 .368 .238 .286 .474 .143 .400 --

Wright

1-15 16-30 31-45 46-60 61-75 76-90 91-105 106-120
ERA 4.50 13.50 0.00 5.40 0.00 0.00 0.00 --
BAA .250 .000 .286 .167 .091 .308 .000 --

Wilson

1-15 16-30 31-45 46-60 61-75 76-90 91-105 106-120
ERA 0.00 6.75 0.00 0.00 9.00 0.00 -- --
BAA .200 .571 .333 .250 .250 .250 --

--

And here is a fun little chart that shows you ERAs for each pitcher by inning. Yay!

Pitcher 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
Miguel Gonzalez 6.30 1.80 5.40 1.80 5.62 2.70 0.00 0.00 --
Wei-Yin Chen 1.80 6.30 2.70 4.50 4.15 0.00 1.80 0.00 --
Chris Tillman 3.60 2.70 7.45 6.75 7.71 3.60 16.20 -- --
Ubaldo Jimenez 1.00 4.00 1.00 3.12 4.50 0.00 10.80 -- --
Bud Norris 6.00 9.00 10.12 29.70 0.00 0.00 16.20 -- --
Mike Wright 3.00 0.00 6.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 --
Tyler Wilson 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 27.00 -- -- 0.00

As you can see, Tillman, Jimenez and Norris have not fared well at all in the seventh inning, which is likely the point where a pitcher is in that dreaded 90-110 pitch realm. So, what's the deal?

Oriole starters have already put a lot of pressure on their bullpen mates, having thrown the seventh-fewest innings among MLB rotations to this point. Norris has been the worst of the bunch and has also missed time with an illness and Tillman has been terribly unimpressive. Jimenez has done so many things great but has failed to finish strong.

It's clear from the the recent carousel of pitchers that Showalter is well aware of the problem.  Keeping the bullpen stocked with fresh arms is really the only solution to the problem in the middle of a season in which you still hope to compete. But the fact remains that Oriole pitchers have to do a better job late in games or Showalter simply has to be quicker on the trigger.

What do you make of this issue, Camden Chat? How would you solve the problem? Keep doing what the Orioles have already done? Once Kevin Gausman is healthy, put him right back into the rotation? Make a trade for crying out loud!? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @_TyYoung