The Baltimore Orioles spent most of the offseason preventing key players from last season from going elsewhere in free agency, most notably Darren O’Day, Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. But keeping primarily the same roster from last season is only going to get the Orioles back to where they ended up last year, which was a distant third in the AL East. If Baltimore is going to do better in 2016, one of their new acquisitions has to be a difference maker, most notably pitcher Yovani Gallardo.
With power hitters like Davis, Adam Jones and Manny Machado in their lineup, the Orioles will have no trouble scoring runs more times than not. With O’Day successfully re-signed, the bullpen is also in good shape. However, it’s the team’s starting rotation that has to prove it can stack up to the other teams in the AL East if the Orioles are going to be true contenders in what is likely to be one of baseball’s most competitive divisions.
This is where the addition of Gallardo can make a big difference for the Orioles. Baltimore has enough quality arms with the likes of Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez and others to fill out a solid five-man rotation, but what they’re missing is an ace, and that’s what they need Gallardo to be for them. Gallardo is the closest thing the Orioles have to a true ace, a pitcher they know will give them a chance to win when he takes the ball and can occasionally carry the team on his back to win a game with a brilliant solo performance.
In 2015, Gallardo posted the lowest ERA of his career outside of the 2008 season when he made just four starts. At 30 years old, he’s very much in his prime and more than capable of giving the Orioles 30-plus starts and pitching at a high level throughout the course of the season. If Gallardo can do that, he should win at least 15 games with Baltimore’s offense providing plenty of support. More importantly, he can be the leader at the top of Baltimore’s rotation.
With Gallardo pitching like an ace at the top of their rotation, Baltimore’s starting staff takes on a whole new look after having the second-highest ERA in the American League last year. Even a rotation that’s middle of the pack would give the Orioles a shot considering the power in their lineup and the quality in their bullpen. But if Gallardo struggles and the Baltimore rotation makes little or no improvement from last year, it’ll be difficult for the Orioles to compete for a postseason spot in 2016.