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Saturday Bird Droppings: Starting pitchers on the fritz

Poor pitching, Kjerstad returns, and Zimmermann might be tipping.

Baltimore Orioles v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

Honestly, it took longer than I expected, but the Orioles starting pitching has hit the skids. As a unit, they own a 5.27 ERA this season. That is fourth-worst in baseball. It’s been even worse since May 1, during which time they have a 5.85 ERA. And that brings us to June, a month in which they now have a 7.34 ERA, 0.80 worse than any other team in the sport.

It has been a particularly tough stretch for Bruce Zimmermann, who has allowed 27 runs over 25.2 innings in his five most recent starts. That includes Friday night’s rough outing in which he served up seven runs on 10 hits, no walks, and two strikeouts over 4.2 frames. His season ERA has jumped from 2.72 prior to this stretch all the way up to 5.52 now. It’s not good.

This is not a Zimmermann-specific problem, of course. Jordan Lyles has been scuffling as of late. Kyle Bradish is still searching for consistency. And the amount of injuries are just unfair.

Unfortunately, no help is on the way, at least not imminently. The injury to Grayson Rodriguez takes away the most obvious candidate to come from Norfolk and make an impact. DL Hall should be in Baltimore this year, and he is progressing well, but his innings will need to be closely monitored after getting hurt in 2021.

Beyond that, the options are bleak. Spenser Watkins and Zac Lowther don’t inspire much confidence. It’s looking like Matt Harvey will eventually get a chance, but he is still serving a suspension.

The reality seems to be that the current group needs to sort things out on their own. And there is reason to think that they can. Dean Kremer just returned from an oblique injury last week. His first start was intriguing if not entirely effective. Bradish should improve as he gains experience. Lyles will eventually return to his baseline.

This was never supposed to be a standout group. Struggle is expected. But the Orioles do need to see a bright spot or two in this rotation by the end of the season. So far, Tyler Wells seems to be one. The front office is likely hoping that either Bradish or Kremer can be the other.

Links

O’s Kjerstad makes pro debut, collects 1st hit, after 2-year wait | Orioles.com
This is awesome news! Expectations for the former top pick have, fairly, been tempered. But getting on the field is a good first step. If he can sort himself out and dominate in Delmarva that would be a huge boost to the farm system.

Orioles starter Bruce Zimmermann felt he was tipping pitches. The fixes haven’t been easy to adopt. | The Baltimore Sun
Zimmermann is still a rather young pitcher. He has fewer than 140 career innings, which is about one full season. There is time to sort things out. For him, if he could keep the ball in the stadium, that would be a huge plus. He has been bit by the home run bug, particularly on the road, over the last month. If that doesn’t change, he will continue to struggle

This, that and the other | Roch Kubatko
I like the information about Rodriguez here. The injury he has sucks, but it should not be career-altering. This is a player that has proven all he needs to in the minors. He is ready for a big league shot when healthy. That might just line up with Opening Day 2023.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday! It doesn’t look like any former Orioles share your birthday, according to Baseball Reference. But it is the birthday of actor Gene Wilder (1933-2016), quarterback Joe Montana (1956), actor Hugh Laurie (1959), actor Peter Dinklage (1969), basketball player Diana Taurasi (1982), and actor Shia LeBeouf (1986).

This day in O’s history

1999 - Albert Belle’s streak of 392 consecutive games played is snapped as Orioles manager Ray Miller benches him after not running out a ground ball.