The second half of the season has started the same way the first half ended for the Baltimore Orioles: with a bunch of losses.
Sunday's loss to the Cubs (CHC 8, BAL 0) clinched the series sweep for Chicago and dropped the O's to a staggering 20-38 in their last 58 games. Only the Phillies (16-41) have been worse during that time. Baltimore was once 22-11 this season. Now they're 42-49.
The biggest reason the O's have crashed is the starting rotation. Ubaldo Jimenez was hammered for six runs on 11 hits and one walk in only 3 2/3 innings on Sunday. Here are the team's top five starters at the moment:
- Dylan Bundy: 4.33 ERA in 108 innings
- Kevin Gausman: 6.39 ERA in 100 innings
- Wade Miley: 5.40 ERA in 93 1/3 innings
- Ubaldo Jimenez: 7.01 ERA in 87 innings
- Chris Tillman: 7.90 ERA in 49 innings
Including spot starters, the O's rotation has a 6.02 ERA this season. You read correctly -- 6.02! Believe it or not, that is not the worst rotation ERA in baseball. The Reds are slightly worse with a 6.04 ERA, but Cincinnati is rebuilding and everyone expected the Reds to be bad. The O's were in the AL Wild Card Game last year and came into this season looking to contend.
Dan Connolly of Baltimore Baseball puts into perspective the historical awfulness of Baltimore's 2017 rotation:
The Orioles have never finished a year with a rotation ERA above 5.51; that mark was set by the 2008 club, which had a trio of starters with ERAs over 6.00 in 17 starts or more (Garrett Olson, Brian Burres and Radhames Liz). That club, which also had Steve Trachsel post an 8.39 ERA in 10 games (eight starts), lost 93 under Dave Trembley.
And this rotation has a fighting chance of burying that one in the record books.
In fact, if this rotation gest no better, it will be just the 11th team since 1913 – the extent of baseball-reference.com's database – to post a 6.00 rotation ERA or higher for a full year.
Only one team this century, the 91-loss Rangers in 2003, finished with a rotation ERA over 6.00. Texas starters had a 6.24 ERA that year. Coincidentally, Buck Showalter managed both those 2003 Rangers and these 2017 Orioles.
There have been rumblings the O's will sell veterans at the trade deadline, and they absolutely should do that. Make everyone available, even Manny Machado. He's going to be a free agent after next season. . It's time to hunker down and add some much-needed youth.