Do the Baltimore Orioles have any starting pitchers that the Chicago Cubs could look into acquiring?
As the old saying goes, a team can never have too much starting pitching. For the 44-45 Chicago Cubs, this is especially true.
Entering Friday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, Cubs’ starting pitchers have a 4.66 ERA. Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey all have ERAs above 4.00, far from the 2016 versions of themselves.
Although the Cubs improved their rotation with the acquisition of left-hander Jose Quintana, there are still more than two weeks until the trade deadline. At 42-46, the Orioles are 7 1/2 games out of first place.
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Based on where the Orioles stand, one would assume that they could be in sell-mode entering the trade deadline. If they decide to trade away any players, the Cubs could be in the market for a starting pitcher.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the Orioles have had as bad fortune with their starting pitching this season, if not worse. Entering Friday, the Orioles’ 5.75 ERA from starting pitchers is 29th in the MLB.
Struggling ace could afford change of scenery
Right-hander Chris Tillman, 29, is listed as the Orioles’ ace pitcher on their depth chart despite pitching quite unlike one. In 11 starts, Tillman is 1-5 with a 7.90 ERA; in June alone, he went 0-3 with a 9.69 ERA in six starts.
Although his numbers say otherwise, Tillman could be a nice depth addition for the Cubs (for the right price). His 4.30 ERA through 190 starts is not terrible, especially considering that he has pitched in the hitter-dominant American League his entire career.
In 2016, Tillman went 16-6 with a 3.77 ERA in 30 starts; excluding 2015, Tillman’s ERA was under 4.00 every season from 2012-2016, in fact. If the Cubs could bring Tillman aboard without giving up too much, he would make the team’s rotation far more formidable.
Outside of Tillman, the Cubs could also target right-handers, Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy. Gausman, 26, is under contract through the 2020 season; he currently is making $3.45 million. A young, affordable and controllable pitcher is exactly what the Cubs are looking for in a starting pitcher.
Like Tillman, Gausman has struggled throughout the 2017 season; in 19 starts before the All Star break, he went 5-7 with a 5.85 ERA. In 30 starts last season, however, he went 9-12 with a 3.61 ERA. In 114 games (91 starts), Gausman has a 4.30 ERA.
Young arm exactly what Cubs need
Between these three pitchers, 24-year-old Dylan Bundy could be the hardest to acquire due to his age alone. Bundy has hardly cracked the surface as a big league pitcher; despite debuting in 2012, Bundy did not pitch for the Orioles again until 2016. He underwent Tommy John surgery in the summer of 2013.
After two successful seasons in the Orioles farm system, Bundy re-joined the Orioles in 2016. In 36 games (14 starts), he went 10-6 with a 4.02 ERA. In 18 starts this season, he is 8-8 with a 4.33 ERA.
Between these three starters, Bundy is the most attractive possible acquisition. He is under contract through the 2021 season and is only making $1.64 million this season. Between his young age and the fact that he has plenty of room to grow, the Cubs would be fortunate to acquire him.
Bundy would be tough to acquire for these reasons; the Orioles certainly must see the potential brilliance in Bundy’s future. For the Cubs to acquire him, they would have to part ways with a young position player, such as Javier Báez, Ian Happ, etc.
Although such a move could be risky due to Bundy’s injury history, it certainly could pay off in the end as well. Ultimately, the Cubs should inquire who could be available from the Orioles, at the very least. If the right offer is out there, any one of Tillman, Gausman or Bundy would be a solid addition for the team’s playoff chances.