The Orioles haven't pitched all that well this year. For reference, here are some basic for the starters.
Jason Hammel: 123 IP in 21 GS, 5.20 ERA, -0.3 rWAR
Jake Arrieta: 23.2 IP in 5 GS, 7.23 ERA, -0.4 rWAR
Wei-Yin Chen: 101.2 IP in 16 GS, 3.19 ERA, 2.3 rWAR
Miguel Gonzalez: 135.2 IP in 23 GS, 3.78 ERA, 1.5 rWAR
Chris Tillman: 160 IP in 26 GS, 3.66 ERA, 3.3 rWAR
Bud Norris: 27.2 IP in 5 GS, 5.53 ERA, -0.2 rWAR
Scott Feldman: 53.1 IP in 9 GS, 4.56 ERA, 0.2 rWAR
A free agent starter would have probably have pushed Jake Arrieta to be DFA'd prior to opening day, then precluded getting either Norris or Feldman. My feeling is that a pitcher with <1 rWAR is not much of an upgrade there, though you would get to keep Hoes/Hader/late 1st-rnd draft pick.
Here are the almost-one-year results from last year's free agent starters:
Zack Greinke: signed with Dodgers for 6/$159M (plus a draft pick), 2.3 rWAR
Greinke got injured in that stupid brawl, but has still made 21 starts (133 IP). He's been very good.
Anibal Sanchez: resigned with Tigers for 5/$88M with an option, 4.6 rWAR
2.45 ERA in 139.2 IP. Has been great, but high cost for high performance.
Edwin Jackson: signed with Cubs for 4/$52M, -1.1 rWAR
5.00 ERA in 144 IP. Looks like a disaster so far.
Dan Haren: signed with Nationals for 1/$13M, 0.2 rWAR
4.66 ERA in 139 IP. Looking for a bounceback season and was willing to sign a one-year deal. Has been fine but not that good.
Hiroki Kuroda: resigned with Yankees for 1/$15M (would cost other teams a pick), 4.5 rWAR
2.79 ERA in 166.1 IP. A great signing, but he would have cost Hunter Harvey and it's not clear that he would have signed in Baltimore (or anywhere other than NYC or LA)
Kyle Lohse: signed with Brewers for 3/$33M (plus a draft pick), 2.9 rWAR
3.22 ERA in 159.1 IP. Good performance at a decent cost, except for the draft pick.
Ryan Dempster: signed with Red Sox for 2/$26.5M, -0.2 rWAR
4.77 ERA in 145.1 IP. Red Sox fans have been pretty unhappy with this one.
Shaun Marcum: signed with Mets for 1/$4M, -0.9 rWAR
5.29 ERA in 78.1 IP. The high-risk, high-reward choice flopped. And I believe got injured again.
Joe Saunders: signed with Mariners for 1/$6.5M, 0.4 rWAR
4.91 ERA in 150.1 IP. Joe Saunders has been Joe Saunders. Maybe a little worse than his usual.
Francisco Liriano: signed with Pirates for 1/$1M with an option, 3.1 rWAR
2.74 ERA in 125.0 IP. Liriano came back in a big way and is a big reason why the Pirates are relevant. If you wanted Liriano, you were right.
Joe Blanton: signed with Angels, 2/$15M with an option, -2.0 rWAR
6.12 ERA in 129.1 IP. Disaster, moderately priced
Jeremy Guthrie: resigned with Royals, 3/$25M, 0.1 rWAR
4.27 ERA in 166.2 IP. Has been solid only.
Brandon McCarthy: signed with Diamondbacks, 2/$18M, -1.1 rWAR
5.44 ERA in 86 IP. Bad and injured. Feel-good story of potential comeback with Oakland didn't work out that way.
Andy Pettitte: resigned with Yankees, 1/$12M, 0.5 rWAR
4.26 ERA in 137.1 IP. While technically a free agent, he wasn't going to sign anywhere else. Hasn't been that great, now that he's 41.
Unlike the hitting side, where there were at best marginal improvements to be had for a high cost, there were real bargains here. Francisco Liriano has turned out to be the best signing of the offseason, and Anibal Sanchez has justified his contract so far. Hiroki Kuroda has been good, but it's not clear he would have signed anywhere else. Greinke has been fine but underwhelming given his cost.
Kyle Lohse would have improved the team by maybe 3-4 wins, but you'd have to give up Hunter Harvey. Worth it? Very possibly, especially if it means you don't have to trade Hader, Hoes, and a slightly later pick for Bud Norris.
There are misses too. Blanton and Dempster have been very bad, and Guthrie hasn't been worth his cost. The Edwin Jackson signing is a disaster, and unlike Liriano, Marcum and Haren have failed to bounce back.
I think there's far more room for complaint about the Orioles' offseason on the pitching side than on the hitting side. The rotation could have been improved, but it would be risky, and unless they had managed to guess right on Liriano, the cost would have been large.
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Lifelong. Down by the river.
Lifelong. Down by the river.