Predicting the game of baseball isn’t an exact science.
Some might argue that with the amount of numbers on-hand for various aspects of the game, compared to other sports, baseball is on the simpler side to forecast. But as the 2016 version of the Baltimore Orioles have shown us, there’s absolutely no point in attempting to predict an outcome of a season.
Throughout spring training, all of us threw around our predictions for this season. Some said the Orioles would break home run records, others thought the year would be one of mediocrity across the board. Ultimately however, we all had the same sentiment: the starting pitching wasn’t going to be good.
In many ways, we were right. Orioles starters have a 4.87 ERA (26th in MLB) and a 1.43 WHIP (25th) this year. They’re just not very good — we knew that coming in, and it’s not exactly a surprise.
What is a surprise, though, is the makeup of the rotation.
Before the season, both Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson were locks to get significant starting time in 2016. The duo was looked upon as a potential emerging pair that could eat innings and throw in a few quality starts to help the Orioles’ numbers hover around the league averages. Heck, some (including myself) were expecting great potential.
Fast-forward to August and neither is with the big-league club, and by the looks of it, neither will be needed to complete a postseason run. Strange how this whole baseball thing works, isn’t it?
The current state of the rotation is far from perfect — in fact, it’s actually quite concerning. But in the grand scheme of things, there’s enough in the tank to manage the rest of the year without the Wright/Wilson combo ... which makes you wonder: how did we get here?
With Wright, the story as simple as it is disappointing.
His 6.04 ERA in 2015 spoke volumes to his major-league ability, but we admittedly didn’t want to believe that what he showed in his rookie season was his ceiling. Sure, he has the size and the “classic look” of a major-league starter, but the stuff was just never there.
Wright allowed way too much contact in 2015, and the story followed the same script in his early starts this year.
76 hits and 51 runs (46 earned) in 69.1 innings isn’t a recipe for success. Coming off of an entire offseason to improve and prepare for an opportunity to pitch for a legitimate contender, the 6’6” right-hander fell flat.
Wilson’s situation is a bit more complex, simply due to the fact that he’s still sturdily hanging on to his life with the big-league ball-club. He looks primed to re-join the team later this year when the roster opens up in September, but it’s not going to be as a young, rising starting arm that the team so desperately needs.
Like a smaller-scale situation akin to Kevin Gausman’s, Wilson simply hasn’t found a way to put everything together to make his puzzle complete.
When his command improves, he finds too much of the zone. And when he finds too much of the zone, balls start flying off of the opposing bats, leading to an increased HR/9 ratio.
After his period of rest in early July, Wilson went to Norfolk to make two starts, both of which were very ugly. He then followed up that pair of disappointments with a brilliant big-league relief outing on July 26th, retiring every one of the 12 batters he faced.
The bottom line: nobody knows where Tyler Wilson is right now, including the Orioles. And because of that, he, too, has failed to establish a spot in the starting rotation down the stretch.
Yeah, it’s frustrating — but it’s also confusing. From the outside, it seems to be another case of the Orioles failing to develop consistent and reliable starting pitching. But is that really the case?
Ultimately it’s could be too early to make any kind of judgement about either of these guys. Both are relatively young, and there’s no reason to abandon their careers whatsoever.
But that doesn’t negate the fact that Wilson and Wright’s stories are equally disappointing as they are puzzling. One could argue that they just haven’t figured “it” out yet. On the flip side, you could just as easily ask how long will it take for “it” to be figured out.
A lot will happen between now and the end of the 2016 season, and there’s plenty of time to sit back and analyze what the future holds for these two young arms. For now, it appears they’ll play out their respective seasons in Norfolk and/or in the bullpen, cashing in on any opportunity they can to improve.
The rotation is set, and the services of Wilson and Wright simply aren't needed.
But in the big picture, after the preseason hype, it’s just odd to see both of these guys not playing any part of the Orioles’ postseason chances.
It’s unimportant for the time being, but at the end of the day, it’s difficult to not be curious about the futures of these two prospects.