The O's pitching is bad, like really bad. Holding a 4.47 Team ERA and ranking 25th in the major leagues in Quality Starts (only two in front of Milwaukee who ranks last). This certainly isn't the winning formula for a playoff team, let alone a division leader, which is what the 2016 Orioles currently are. The O's rank 5th in the Majors in runs scored, so their offense is clearly keeping them afloat. However, recently teams are making the World Series with mediocre starting pitching...so it is possible.
The Kansas City Royals followed the formula of having a lights out bullpen and defense. This formula is something the Orioles have relied on heavily in the Dan Duquette era, and it has worked! The Orioles have the most wins in the American League since 2012 (402-328), but it hasn't translated to a win even in the ALCS. The Orioles have their own version of a 'Big Three' in the bullpen in Darren O'Day, Brad Brach, and Zach Britton. But, O'Day is injured and is uncertain if he will be ready after the all-star break. And in order for the Orioles to have their relievers be most effective, they must get to them with a lead.
The pitching staff has given up at least five runs in the last nine straight games, making it extremely difficult to rely on even the most prolific of offenses. If the Orioles expect to contend, they will at least need quality starts. They either aren't getting their starter to go at least six innings or aren't allowing fewer than three runs and that's a big deal. Not only will it start to tax one of the game's best bullpens, but it forces an offense to have to seemingly come back every game and adds on an immense amount of pressure.
So where could the Orioles turn to fix this pitching mess? One name that makes Orioles fans excited, but O's management cautiously optimistic is Dylan Bundy. Bundy has essentially been on a starter's schedule for the majority of the season, but in the bullpen. And after a not so impressive May, Bundy has turned it around. In his last seven appearances, Bundy has allowed just three earned runs in 16.2 IP (1.62 ERA) and struck out 16. More recently, in his last three appearances, Bundy hasn't allowed a run in 8.2 innings while striking out nine. While his fastball lives around 94-96, it has movement and run, making it difficult on lefties. Not to mention a changeup that sits in the high-80's and a 12-6 curveball that baffles many hitters. The run on his fastball makes it nearly unhittable for lefties as shown in the chart below. Now, the Orioles are supposedly putting an innings limit on Bundy around 70 innings, and at his innings sitting at 35.2 IP at the halfway point in the season, that limit may come to fruition.
The question is should he get a chance to start knowing he'll most likely be shut down earlier than later? Well, it can't get much worse. Ubaldo has an ERA virtually of 7.00 and a WHIP approaching 2.00. Tyler Wilson has been run out of the rotation for now with an ERA in the mid-5.00's and Mike Wright is improving at Triple-A Norfolk, but the O's probably don't feel too confident having him back in the rotation just yet. So is giving Bundy a spot start such a big deal? It could elevate his confidence and give the Orioles offense a breath of fresh air, potentially getting a reliable start.
Regardless, the Orioles will most likely go outside the organization to fix their pitching woes. Drew Pomeranz currently ranks 10th in the MLB in FIP (would currently be 2nd in the AL behind Corey Kluber). Pomeranz has been rumored as a southpaw option, along with Francisco Liriano and Matt Moore. Pomeranz has struck out 109 hitters in 95 innings and allowed just eight home runs.
Bringing someone in outside the organization is not a panic move, it's needed not only just for the playoff hunt, but to succeed in the playoffs. Evaluating the entire pitching staff is needed in order to avoid wasting such a prolific year by the offense that smashed an MLB record 56 homers in June. Changes must be made and the Orioles can ill-afford to wait.