Orioles Pitcher Report Card At The One-Third Mark

The Report Card for the position players went up a couple days ago, with a lot more D’s than one would have liked to have seen. The pitching has been a relative strength so far this year, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually been good. A 4.72 ERA isn’t exactly stellar, and it’s backed up by a 4.81 FIP and a 4.76 xFIP. The team’s 1.7 pitching WAR is one of the lowest marks in the majors, though given the expectations for the unit and the injuries to the back end of the pen I think a C+ isn’t an unfair grade. Stats through game 54, with only the major starters and the bullpen as a whole being graded.

Kevin Millwood: B
2010 WAR: 0.7
Projected Pro-rated WAR: 0.8
ERA: 4.29
FIP: 4.71
xFIP: 4.03
tERA: 5.37
K/9: 7.1
BB/9: 2.4
HR/9: 1.6
GB%: 39.4

I’m glad I was wrong about how well Millwood would pitch for the O’s, at least so far. He’s striking out more batters than he has since 2004, and showing better control than he did the last couple years. He’s still giving up a lot of flyballs, which is why the home run rate is so high, though part of that is the 14.9% HR/FB rate. I’d really like to see him spun off to a contender sooner rather than later, before some regression sets in (more, I should say).

Jeremy Guthrie: B-
2010 WAR: 0.8
Projected Pro-rated WAR: 0.7
ERA: 3.84
FIP: 4.42
xFIP: 4.85
tERA: 4.42
K/9: 4.7
BB/9: 2.1
HR/9: 1.0
GB%: 39.6

He’s bounced back pretty well from the terrible 2009. His strike-out rate has fallen for a fourth (or fifth) straight season, but he’s cut his walk rate by about 25% and gotten his groundball rate back up towards 2007-08 levels (though he’s still a flyball pitcher). Would be decent at the back end of a rotation, though he’s not so good at the front end. Though he’s under team control for another season, I’d be OK with seeing him traded if the right deal came along.

Brian Matusz: B-
2010 WAR: 1.0
Projected Pro-rated WAR: 1.0
ERA: 5.28
FIP: 3.96
xFIP: 4.69
tERA: 4.11
K/9: 7.3
BB/9: 3.4
HR/9: 0.9
GB%: 34.3

I thought Matusz had a chance of improving on his walk rate from 2009 of 2.8 per nine, but that hasn’t happened (and, in fact, it’s gone the other way). He’s still a flyball pitcher not missing a ton of bats, which is why his xFIP isn’t very good. Not too many of those flyballs have found seats yet though, which is why his FIP looks better and his WAR is the highest on the team (amongst pitchers). Part of the reason for the high ERA is Matusz’s .359 BABIP. I assume that’s mostly a fluke, though it was quite high last year as well (.343).

Brad Bergesen: D-
2010 WAR: -0.2
Projected Pro-rated WAR: 0.6
ERA: 6.75
FIP: 5.85
xFIP: 5.79
tERA: 4.99
K/9: 2.5
BB/9: 3.2
HR/9: 1.4
GB%: 50.7

He started out the year terribly, getting no sink on his fastball and walking too many batters. After going down to the minors for a start, Bergys been a bit better in those two areas (2.7 BB/9 and 56% walk rate), though he’s not striking out any batters (2.0 K/9). Given that’s he’s not missing any bats, Bergesen will need to get even more groundballs and walk even fewer batters as his FIP since he came back is still about 5.00. I’m not sure how much of a chance he’ll get to figure it out though, given that it looks like he’s been moved to the bullpen.

David Hernandez: C-
2010 WAR: 0.2
Projected Pro-rated WAR: 0.2
ERA: 4.93
FIP: 5.09
xFIP: 5.82
tERA: 5.01
K/9: 6.3
BB/9: 5.5
HR/9: 1.0
GB%: 29.3

As a starter Hernandez actually walked more batters than he struck out, though he’s been better since moving to the pen. Still don’t think he’ll be much more than just a decent reliever, though he might be in line for a few save opportunities given the current depth chart.

Bullpen: D-
2010 WAR: -0.5
Projected Pro-rated WAR: 0.9

Mike Gonazlez, the team’s new $6 M closer, racked up an ERA of 18.00 in his 2 IP before going on the DL. Jim Johnson took his place for a short while, but his 6.52 ERA (though with a 3.82 FIP and 3.75 xFIP) resulted in him being sent to the minors before eventually going on the DL. Alfredo Simon came up from Triple-A to handle the closing duties, and showed good stuff. His 2.92 ERA wasn’t as good as his FIP (4.48) or xFIP (4.64) due to poor control (5.1 BB/9), though he did generate a ton of groundballs (62.5%). Shutdown Sauce was 6 for 7 in save opportunities, but then went on the DL. Will Ohman is the current closer, though his 1.02 ERA is shinier than his 3.95 FIP ad 3.79 xFIP would indicate it should be. Starting the season with 15+ scoreless innings will due that. Mark Hendrickson has been decent (4.50 ERA, 4.02 FIP, 4.31 xFIP), thought it’s Jason Berken who’s likely been the team’s best reliever. Berken moved from the rotation to the pen, and has upped his strike-out rate (to a still low 5.3 K/9), improved his control (2.0 BB/9), and improved all his pitching metrics (1.98 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 4.29 xFIP). His 0.3 WAR is the highest amongst O’s relievers, and the 4th highest amongst all Baltimore pitchers. After that you’ve got Matt Albers, Alberto Castillo, and Cla Meredith at -0.4 to -0.5 WAR each.

Overall, the pen has been below average. Their ERA and xFIP are merely bad, while the FIP is one of the worst in the majors. On top of that, they’ve blown a number of close games. It’s been a mess out there quite often.