In a fine story posted Friday morning, fellow Camden Chat writer Andrea SK pointed out an incongruity in the Orioles’ offensive statistics. Baltimore was hitting, the numbers said. But they weren’t scoring.
Here’s one potential cure to the problem: Get Andrew Cashner on the mound.
A team that has had difficulty getting runs home suddenly forgets its troubles when the bearded right-hander gets on the mound. The Orioles don’t exactly become the 1927 Yankees, but let’s put it this way. They do the best impression they can.
The Orioles have scored 143 runs in 35 games, an average of 4.09 per game. When Cashner has started those games, however, they’ve scored 6.57 runs per over seven contests. With anyone else getting the ball, Baltimore has scored just 3.46 per game.
The run support has had a clear record on Cashner’s record, which stands at 4-1 and has him tied for sixth in the American League in wins. It’s a fine mark - it’s just that the rest of the stats don’t go with it. His ERA is 4.71, which is above league average. His WHIP is 1.46, good for 79th in the majors. Batters are hitting .266 against him, good for 74th in the big leagues.
Not terrible stats, mind you. This isn’t Ubaldo Jimenez we’re talking about here. They’re just not the stats who has won four of his five decisions, and whose team has won five of the seven occasions he’s taken the mound.
And yet, the Orioles hitters have been consistently giving their inconsistent pitcher a chance - even on days in which he has pitched poorly. On April 8 against Oakland, he allowed nine hits and four runs in 5.1 innings, but got the win in a 12-4 result. In his next start, against Boston, he allowed three runs in five innings, but came out on top in a 9-5 win. And then, after pitching well in back-to-back starts, he gave up five runs in four innings against the White Sox and yet was spared the loss in a 7-6 final.
How lucky has he been, though, in a respective sense? Even compared to the rest of the league, Cashner has been oddly fortunate. Of all pitchers who have had at least as many starts as he has, a total of 81, only six have had his run support of 6.57 or better: Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez (seven starts, 7.86) and Rick Porcello (seven, 6.86), Oakland’s Brett Anderson (seven, 7.14), Texas’s Lance Lynn (seven, 7.00), Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola (seven, 6.57) and Houston’s Wade Miley (seven, 6.57).
A closer look, though, shows Cashner’s support to be even more strange. Lynn’s got his backing from the third-highest scoring offense in the majors (entering Monday). The Red Sox have scored the sixth-most runs, so it makes sense they score for Rodriguez and Porcello. Nola’s Phillies are tied for ninth. Miley’s Astros are 11th. Anderson’s A’s are 13th.
Cashner, meanwhile, has been given an enviable cushion most nights by an offense ranked 22nd in the majors in scoring runs.
He’s certainly seen the flip side of the coin. Last season, the Orioles averaged only 3.47 runs per Cashner start, and by early July he was looking at a 2-9 record despite a decent 4.39 ERA. He pitched worse the rest of the way but still didn’t get much support; he finished with 28 starts and had the Orioles give him three or fewer runs to work with 18 times.
It’s been a different story this season, and given the rough shape of the Orioles’ lineup, with only two proven bats in the mix in Trey Mancini and Jonathan Villar, it’s hard to imagine it’ll keep up. For Cashner to continue to win his starts, he’ll need to pick things up and find some consistency on his end. Good fortune can only last so long.