Baltimore Orioles Bolster Pen as Rest of AL Improves Starting Rotations

Baltimore Orioles

The trade deadline has officially passed and the Baltimore Orioles decided to beef up their bullpen by trading for left-handed reliever Andrew Miller. The move comes as no surprise after GM Dan Duquette repeatedly stated that the team was not willing to part ways with top prospects Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey, universally understood as the only way the team could have obtained a top of the rotation starting pitcher. As the O’s decided to bolster their pen, the other two AL division leaders decided to improve their starting rotations any way they could.

Coming into the trade deadline, the Orioles were hoping to improve the front half of their starting rotation and/or to strengthen their pen by acquiring another left-handed specialist; the latter would inevitably be the final and only move the O’s would make. In the final hours leading up to the end of the deadline, rumors had surfaced about how the team was close to making a deal that would send starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez and a prospect to Boston in order to pick up veteran ace, Jon Lester. As that deal fizzled, the Orioles remained in Boston and instead completed a deal for Red Sox reliever, Andrew Miller.

Miller, a starting pitcher turned reliever, improves a bullpen for Baltimore that ranks fourth in ERA (3.31), third in WHIP (1.21) and first in Saves (36) among the entire AL. Miller, playing for the last place Red Sox this season, has posted a 3-5 record and a 2.34 ERA. Over the past three seasons, the six foot seven inch Miller has become a beacon of consistency and increasing performance, averaging a 2.76 ERA to go with a 13.9 SO/9 IP ratio. His .907 WHIP this season places him just behind team closer Zach Britton (.880) and right-handed reliever Darren O’Day (.898).

As the O’s ultimately decided to bolster their bullpen, the rest of the AL contenders completed steps to improve their starting rotations. After the Oakland Athletics traded for starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel early on in the trade season, they inevitably sought out to amplify their stranglehold on the entire AL by picking up veteran ace Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox. In response, the Detroit Tigers made their move.

It was hard to imagine a team being able to compete with the A’s newly acquired starting and startling rotation, but in the waning moments of the trade deadline, the Detroit Tigers were able to swing a three-team trade in order to complete a trade for Tampa Bay Rays starting ace, David Price. With that move the Detroit Tigers now reinforced a starting rotation that features back-to-back AL Cy Young award winners (Price-2012; Scherzer-2013) to go along with a lineup that features the likes of Triple-Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Ian Kinsler.

The move by the Baltimore Orioles was a necessary change and certainly improved the team. However, as the other top teams in the AL made moves to cement their starting rotations as two of the best in the league, the O’s stood pat with theirs at the deadline. There is no denying that the team now establishes themselves as having one of the best bullpens in the AL, however, if they hope to be able to compete with the new starting rotations of the A’s and Tigers and move past the LDS for the first time since 1997, they will need to prove that the recent success of their starting rotation is no fluke.

Commentary by Ryne Vyles
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer Covering the Baltimore Orioles

Sources:
Photo courtesy of Keith Allison as licensed 
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Baseball Reference
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