Everyone knows that great starting pitching is key to success in Major League Baseball. Both the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros are in the World Series mainly due to their fantastic starting rotations.
The Orioles starting rotation last year was a mixture of good and bad. Good in the fact that John Means had a solid rookie season, in which he wasn’t even supposed to make the 25-man roster. Bad in the sense that the rotation as a whole was statistically second to last in all of baseball with a 5.57 ERA.
With so much uncertainty going around Baltimore during this rebuilding process, let’s take a look at the possible starting rotation for the 2020 season.
1. John Means
John Means was the best starting pitcher for the Orioles last season, and it was not even close.
Means, 25, was the lone Orioles representative for the All-Star Game in his rookie season. Finishing the year with a 12-11 record and a 3.60 ERA, Means was a consistent workforce every time he took the mound.
After a year in which he pitched in 31 games (27 starts) and threw 155 innings pitched, Means looks to be the ace of the team heading into 2020. Don’t be surprised if he gets the starting nod on Opening Day.
2. Dylan Bundy
The longest tenured Oriole starter, Dylan Bundy, is looking to have a rebound season in 2020.
It was a rough 2019 season for Bundy, one the Orioles were not expecting. Bundy finished the year with a 7-14 record and a 4.79 ERA in 30 games.
Although Bundy threw 161.2 innings, the most of any Orioles starter during 2019, he gave up 86 earned runs and 29 home runs, which have plagued Bundy throughout his career.
With his fastball no longer having the velocity it used to, Bundy has to rely on his offspeed pitches. When on point, his slider can be devastating, especially to right-handers. And being 26 years old (27 by spring training), the organization will have to look and see if Bundy will be a part of the future.
Hopefully Bundy can have a bounce back year in 2020, but it shouldn’t be a surprise to fans if Bundy is on the trade market, especially if he has a strong first half.
3. Alex Cobb
The Orioles certainly hope Alex Cobb can stay healthy in 2020. After playing in just three games in 2019, you can definitely say it’s a make or break year for Cobb.
Cobb went 0-2 with a 10.95 ERA in his three starts before having to get hip surgery in June, shutting him down the rest of the season.
Cobb, like Bundy, will obviously be on the trade market with two years left on his four-year deal. If he bounces back in the first half of the season, his stock might rise. He will ultimately be like Andrew Cashner last season, not in the picture for the Orioles’ future.
4. Asher Wojciechowski
Asher Wojciechowski was a mid-season addition for the Orioles in 2019, and he will look to build his repertoire during the 2020 season.
The 30-year-old pitched in 17 games (16 starts) for the Birds, finishing the year with a 4-8 record and a 4.92 ERA.
Although Wojo is considered old for a rebuilding team, he isn’t a free agent until 2024. The Orioles will definitely need him for at least the next two seasons until some of the younger minor league starters come up.
The good thing about the number five position is that the Orioles have options.
We could very well see someone like David Hess, Aaron Brooks, or Gabriel Ynoa take the spot out of spring training. That would be the safe bet. But what most fans want to see is the much anticipated debut of 24-year-old leftie, Keegan Akin.
The No. 11 overall prospect in the Orioles organization is destined to make his major league debut any time now. Even coming off a down year, in which he went 6-7 with a 4.73, Akin is a big left-handed power arm, who tallied 131 strikeouts in Triple-A Norfolk last season.
We’ll have to wait and see what Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde have in store come spring training. But one thing is for certain, it will be an interesting year for the Orioles starting rotation.
Will we see trades for Dylan Bundy or Alex Cobb, or will the O’s wait another year to make adjustments? Those are good questions that will be answered in 2020.
What do you think about the starting rotation for 2020? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and be sure to like, share, and follow The Baltimore Battery on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!